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YMCA’s Take Child Protection Very Seriously

November 28, 2011 Comments off

YMCAs take child protection very seriously.  Their extensive policies and attention to safety regarding every program and service make them a leader in “state of the art” child protection policy.  They also know that this alone does not keep children safe in their communities.  They instead recognize the need for leadership at every level to be involved and engaged in protecting children from sexual abuse.  With the health and well being of children and families at the heart of their mission and a long history of tackling tough community issues, Y’s across the country are stepping up to convene leaders and engage the entire community in prevention.

Teaming up to support these local Y efforts, D2L and The Redwoods Group Foundation are providing tools, resources and funding assistance to help YMCAs operationalize wide spread community awareness and education.  Our vision is that Ys, serving as the natural conveners, bring together community leaders, other local child-serving organizations, and policy makers as partners in prevention.  This exciting collaboration is empowering communities with a strategy and a model for creating and sustaining positive change in the protection of children from child sexual abuse.

YMCAs are helping lead a national effort to build community initiatives that increase awareness of the problem of child sexual abuse and bring prevention to the local level.  A key to their success with such initiatives is their ability to bring together the right people and resources to facilitate change in communities nationwide.  Locally, they do this every day generating solutions to challenges facing their communities.

While community prevention initiatives across the country are having an impact, Y’s have the ability to exponentially increase participation in the effort.  Serving over 9 million children and 12 million adults in 10,000 communities they can be the most effective and efficient pathway to reducing child sexual abuse.  In addition, one of the Y’s focus area is social responsibility, and their emphasis on youth development makes them a natural partner to address this issue.  As former Y CEO, Ralph Yohe stated, “Y’s are uniquely position to take a leadership role in prevention as we are often at the heart of a community, we have a long history of tackling community issues, and bottom line, the protection and well being of children is part of our mission.”

Thanks to the impact YMCAs have on kids, families and communities—and the sheer number of communities they serve—this “Y movement” will lead the way in engaging the largest group of citizens yet in child protection!

YMCA Background

In early 2009, The Redwoods Group, a commercial specialty insurance group based in NC and one of the largest insurers for YMCAs, contacted Darkness to Light to explore synergies between the two organizations.  Redwoods felt that they could provide benefit to their clients by adding Stewards of Children prevention curriculum to their training offerings, believing that the empowering and emotional elements of the program would augment the policy and procedure training components that were also necessary.

Kevin Trapani, founder and CEO of Redwoods, had a bigger vision.  The Redwoods Group is a privately‐held, Certified B Corps that takes their responsibility for the safety of children at Y’s across the country very seriously.  Not only that, social responsibility is at the core of everything Redwoods believes so it wasn’t enough to just address child safety within the 4 walls of a Y.

A collaboration begins…In 2010, the social enterprise’s Foundation made a commitment to facilitate community‐based child sexual abuse prevention through YMCA’sOver the past three years, the Redwoods Group Foundation has dedicated significant time, energy, and financial capitol to protect children from the trauma of sexual abuse. Collaborating with Darkness to Light, a Stewards of Children “seed fund” was created to assist YMCAs in starting community initiatives.  The Foundation has two staff members working to bring YMCAs together to propel the effort to scale.  Their goal is to help YMCA’s engage community partners in child sexual abuse prevention and intervention.  Ultimately, they hope the effort will be expanded to all YMCAs.

Via d2l

Anny is a Steward’s of Children Authorized Facilitator and Prevention Specialist who trains adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse through Darkness to Light’s certification programs.  Please contact Anny to bring Prevent Now! community meetings your area and to arrange Steward’s of Children trainings.  You may contact her via email, anny@annyjacoby.com or 919-225-1421.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

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What Can We Learn From Penn State?

November 27, 2011 Comments off
It’s unfortunate that it takes national headlines to get people talking about a problem that is all too prevalent in our society but we can take advantage of this opportunity to shine the light on the issue of child sexual abuse and recognize that we all have a responsibility to protect children.
  • We’ve learned that this issue is not about big universities, celebrity, or the Catholic Church.  It’s not about reputations, or legacies or any one institution.  This issue is about children.
  • We’ve learned that we have to step into the reality that there are people in our midst that would rob children of their innocence and they are people we know and trust.  They will go out of their way to appear above reproach and they will infiltrate our families and organizations where they can have easy access to children.
  • We’ve learned that it takes tremendous courage for children and adults that have been abused to come forward.  We must support and honor this courage and work together to ensure their story is not handed down to other innocent children.
  • We’ve learned that child safety is the job of an adult.  Teaching children how to keep themselves safe from abuse is important, but adults bear the burden of stepping up and speaking out when something doesn’t look or feel right with respect to the wellbeing of a child.  We’ve learned that it may or may not be our legal responsibility as mandated reporters depending on where we live but morally it is the right thing to do.  If you see something or suspect abuse, call the police.
  • We’ve learned that the ramifications of not acting responsibly are clear.  More abuse occurs, more children are harmed, fewer children get the help they so deserve.  To be silent bystanders is to be complicit in its occurrance and wake. To intervene is to ensure that a child is treated and supported, that they are healed and better protected from potential lifelong hardships of trauma.
  • We’ve learned that child sexual abuse is preventable.  We can learn the facts, we can acknowledge the reality, we can talk to others adults, we can ensure youth serving organizations have comprehensive child protection policy, and we can talk to our children.  Awareness and education is the answer.
  • The fight against child abuse cannot be the job of one agency; it has to be a collaborative effort.  It will take all of us to change culture–to one where engaged adults offer no place for a perpetrator to commit their heinous acts and no access to children.
  • We can be stuck in the shock and horror of what happened at Penn State staying focused on who knew what and when or we can pledge right now to stay focused on the things we can do today that better protect children.  Let Penn State serve as a wake-up call.  Will we stay vigilant or will we again become complacent when the smoke clears?

Ways to Get Involved

Via d2l.org

Anny is a Steward’s of Children Authorized Facilitator and Prevention Specialist who trains adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse through Darkness to Light’s certification programs.  Please contact Anny to bring Prevent Now! community meetings your area and to arrange Steward’s of Children trainings.  You may contact her via email, anny@annyjacoby.com or 919-225-1421.

Take care and stay safe.

Child Sexual Abuse Community Awareness Meetings Being Planned…

November 19, 2011 Comments off

The Darkness to Light’s child sexual abuse program(s) are trainings across the United States.

Have you taken a stance again CSA?  If not, why not?  Call or email me to plan Darkness to Light’s Child Sexual Abuse Community Meetings, Prevent Now! (45 mins) and/or “Stewards of Children”, two-and-a-half training sessions for adults.  Darkness to Lights program seeks “to empower adults through awarness and educational programs to PREVENT, RECOGNIZE AND REACT RESPONSIBLY to childhood sexual abuse. 

“The only public good thing that came out of the horrible Penn State situation is it’s brough major attention to Child Sexual Abuse.”  Take a stance, NOW!

Take care and STAY SAFE!

Sandusky case triggers pain well beyond campus…

November 16, 2011 1 comment

As adults, victims suffer nightmares, anger, anxiety from childhood abuse.

By Kari Huus, Reporter msnbc.com

As the Penn State sex abuse scandal unfolds — ghastly detail by detail — on front pages, the airwaves and Twitter accounts, the news can be especially devastating for one group in particular: former victims of sexual abuse.

“Another night of triggers and flashbacks,” writes a forum member on MaleSurvivor.org, a website devoted to healing male victims of sexual abuse. “… I felt him all over me and my arms are scratched as I try to get the feeling of his hands off me. … I think all the (Penn State) news set the triggers off, and now I am like a zombie, trying to recover and move forward today.”

“I never met Jerry Sandusky, but feel I know him all too well,” writes another member of the forum, referring to the university’s former defensive coordinator who stands accused of sexually molesting at least eight young boys. “I dealt with my own ‘Jerry’ when I was 12 or 13. … Now that he is sated and I am long forgotten, I’m still picking up the pieces.”

“This whole thing is devastating me. These boys are lost in the details … just as most of us here were,” the member added.

Psychologists say that any sex abuse victim — man or woman — may find that news of the Penn State case sparks painful memories. But the way this case is unfolding strikes an especially deep chord with men.

“It can be very triggering of either their own memories — they may get flashbacks — or they may get angry again,” said Richard Gartner, a psychologist and psychoanalyst in New York, and spokesman for Malesurvivor.org. Some men may have to limit their news consumption, and maybe avoid watching football to avoid a panic attack or bout of depression, he said.

“It is re-traumatizing for them — more so to the extent that they believe that this is being handled wrong … and ignoring the needs of the victims.”

Different experience for boys
Sexual abuse has a different impact on boys than on girls, and they deal with it differently because of socialization, experts say.

“Men aren’t supposed to be victims. Men are supposed to be strong,” said Jim Hopper, clinical instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. “A man says I’m not a real man, because I let someone do this to me. I should have been tougher. Even after years of therapy they say this.”

Girls who are abused by men are psychologically damaged, to be sure, experts say, but boys abused by men often come to question their sexual identity and orientation.

“If they were sexually abused by a man, there’s this whole stigma — does that mean I’m gay, or did he do it to me because I look gay?” says Hopper.

Another difference: Boys who forced into sexual acts may have an erection — a physiological response which makes them all the more confused and ashamed of the encounter, Gartner says.

The women’s movement helped bring sexual assault of females into the public eye — and led to tougher penalties against attackers, more policy aimed at prevention and better access to care for victims. The focus on sexual abuse of boys came nearly 20 years later, when hundreds of childhood victims went public with stories of abuse by Catholic priests, according to Gartner.

Shame, silence, secrecy
Still, the shame and stigma makes it less common for boys to report abuse and seek help than girls, studies show.

“Men tend to come into treatment much later in life,” said Gartner. “Usually they are in their 30s, 40s or 50s — occasionally in their 70s — never having spoken about this.”

Their reluctance to talk about abuse is partly to blame for the perception that sexual abuse of boys is rare, Gartner said.

Research shows that about one in six boys are sexually abused before they are 16 years old, according to Hopper, a founding board member of the nonprofit organization OneInSix, which aims to help men deal with abuse they experienced as children.

The number for girls is one in four. The statistics do not include verbal harassment or other forms of non-physical sexual abuse, such as forcing a child to watch a sexual act.

Reports of sexual abuse by boys are still more likely to be dismissed, researchers say, which can intensify the victim’s pain and difficulty later in life.

“Boys who are sexually abused are mostly disbelieved, or it is minimized,” said Gartner. “They’re told, ‘just get over it’.”

“They learn that nobody’s safe,” said Hopper. “That’s really devastating. … that people who were supposed to protect me are not going to help me, they are blaming me!”

That perception by a child can lead to a wide array of problems as they grow older, including depression, anxiety, emotional numbing, substance abuse, and difficulty forming healthy relationships.

PTSD in high gear
Robert Brown, 51, who is now open about his story, was repeatedly sexually assaulted over the course of seven years when he was a child. He says the perpetrators were older boys who were favored because they were top athletes in his small New Hampshire town, while his plight was ignored by adults.

Brown did not acknowledge the problem to anyone until four years ago, when he was blindsided by a severe bout of post-traumatic stress.

Now he is a child protection activist, and shares his story on the MaleSurvivor.org forum, many of whom keep their abuse secret.

“In my lifetime and in my time with all other survivors that I know, the Penn State case is the most earth-shattering one for us to face,” Brown said in an interview.

“Probably because of the authority abused and the trust abused by the sports program and by Jerry Sandusky. It gets worse when we see that it’s underprivileged kids being so badly abused as if they are throwaway people,” he added.

“We identify very, very strongly with these boys. And we identify with the poor handling of this. To think there are 15-year-old cases that have never been dealt with,” Brown said. “It kicks off the (post-traumatic stress) into high gear — nightmares, flashbacks, extreme depression. It’s been some of the worst few days of my life emotionally.”

Gartner said that while the Penn State case has clearly caused pain and anguish for men struggling with the aftermath of abuse, it does demonstrate that perceptions have changed since the 1980s, when he started treating sexually abused men.

“Before the (Catholic) church scandal, even in professional meetings, people rolled their eyes, feeling that (sexual abuse of boys) happened rarely,” said Gartner. “Now, nobody seems to be saying it doesn’t happen. It does give people courage to come forward and disclose and get help, and that’s positive.”

Take care and STAY SAFE!