Posts Tagged ‘Marlene Mish’

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse-An Adult’s Responsibility

May 2, 2011 2 comments

In the past thirty years the field of investigation, identification, and treatment for children who have experienced sexual abuse has progressed and changed tremendously.  But child sexual abuse prevention had remained relatively unchanged—teach kids about good touch/bad touch, tell them to say no, and teach them to tell a trusted adult if something happens.  But this set of strategies puts a weighty burden on the slender shoulders of children.  Most people who sexually abuse children are not only known to the child but trusted by the child and their family.  Teens and adults who abuse children can easily confuse and shame a child into silence.  Most victims of child sexual abuse do not disclose their abuse; leaving the victims to struggle alone with the emotional fall-out from the abuse.

Darkness to Light has developed a child sexual abuse prevention training, Stewards of Children, that puts the burden of preventing child sexual abuse on the shoulders of adults.  Stewards of Children aims to teach the facts about child sexual abuse and increase the protective behaviors of adults.  It encourages adult participants to learn the facts about child sexual abuse, to review the policies and procedures of the child serving agencies and communities of which they are a part, and encourages all child serving staff know what to do if a child discloses abuse to them.

The reality of child sexual abuse is hard to face in both its prevalence (some experts estimate that 1-4 girls and 1-6 boys are sexually abuse before their 18th birthday) and its impact.  The Chapel Hill-Carrboro and the Chatham YMCA, North Carolina has decided to face the harsh reality of child sexual abuse and has started the YMCA Community Coalition for Awareness and Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.  Community awareness meetings (Prevent Now!, one hour) are available as well as Darkness to Light prevention training, Stewards of Children, (2.5-3 hours) for interested community groups (day/evening and weekend training available).

Training is offered to community groups, parent groups, grand-parents, all organizations that serve children and youth (paid staff and/or volunteer), church congregations, every employee in school districts, coaches, law enforcement, etc.  All adults.

The program is used by organizations that need to respond to insurance requirements regarding child protection, and by individuals in the community who are concerned about the care and protection of children.

The time to seek Stewards of Children training is before an abuse report has been made, not after a crisis occurs.  Organizations and parents always think that if it hasn’t happened to them, they don’t need it, but that’s precisely who needs it.  Training should occur before you need it.  You take it to make sure you don’t have a problem.

By working together, a community can change the ugly imprint of child sexual abuse by reducing the number of victims and supporting families and children who have experienced child sexual abuse.

Contributor: Facilitator, Lisa Lackmann

Take care and STAY SAFE!

Anny Jacoby Facilitating Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children Program

April 26, 2011 Comments off

Program trains adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

Taking a bold effort to reach into communities across the country, Anny Jacoby has trained and become a Prevention Specialist and Facilitator for Darkness to Light, an organization whose mission is to train adults in every community to responsibly attack the issue of child sexual abuse.   The focus of the Stewards of Children Program is to effectively shift the responsibility of recognizing and reacting to child sexual abuse to adults, and teach them how to make a local impact.

“Stewards of Children is the only national program which is evidence-based and proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes, and change child protective behaviors. Training is offered to community groups, parent groups, grand-parents, all organizations that serve children and youth (paid staff and/or volunteer), church congregations, every employee in school districts, coaches, law enforcement, etc.  All adults.”   (

Not only is the Stewards of Children a training program, but it’s also being used to change the way society looks upon child sexual abuse, to remove the secrecy, denial and fear and move the issue into the open where children can grow up in a safer environment, find assistance when needed, and know that there are responsible adults within the community to meet their needs.

Anny Jacoby, whose expertise is in personal safety and victim advocacy, has broadened the scope of her experience by joining forces with Darkness to Light and advocating through the Stewards of Children program.

Jacoby is also a Consultant for the organization and, if there is no Stewards of Children program in your community, she can assist in its development.  She is also available for workshops and events to promote the program, connect with area Prevention Specialists and Facilitators, and aid in reaching out to those who wish to provide adults with the training necessary to become actively involved in preventing and repairing the damage of child sexual abuse.

To arrange assistance from Anny Jacoby, she can be reached at

For more information:

Darkness to Light

Anny Jacoby


Pinwheels Call Attention to Child Abuse, Ways to Identify and Prevent It!

April 11, 2011 1 comment

Many communities “plant pinwheel gardens” each April of colorful pinwheels spinning in the wind which represents a child living in the community who was abused last year.

April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month and many local organizations offer tips on preventing abuse.

Congress first declared April as National Child Abuse Awareness Month, a time designated each year to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect, in 1983, and each year the president issues a proclamation calling on Americans to use the month to help prevent child abuse.

The first step in helping abused children is learning to recognize the symptoms of child abuse.  Although child abuse is divided into four types – physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment – the types are more typically found in combination than alone.  A physically abused child for example is often emotionally maltreated as well, and a sexually abused child may be also neglected.  Any child at any age may experience any of the types of child abuse.

Child abuse leaves more than just bruises.  Long after children have recovered from the physical results of any type of abuse, abused children suffer from emotional and psychological trauma that can last the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, many bystanders witness child abuse and do nothing about it. Neighbors and friends may hear or even see child abuse happening, but don’t want to intrude or interfere with “the rights” of the parents.  Such inaction can mean years of pain and heartbreak for young children who are unable to get out of a horrific situation.

Abused children need your intervention.  In their helplessness, they must rely on capable adults who are willing to take a stand and get them out of an abusive environment.  By being aware of child abuse, and helping to educate the people you know, you can help prevent child abuse in your community.

Identifying Child Abuse

While it is impossible to determine the presence of abuse or neglect by behavior, the following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect:

The Child:

  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
  • Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parent’s attention
  • Has learning problems or difficulty concentrating that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
  • Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
  • Lacks adult supervision•Is overly compliant, passive or withdrawn
  • Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home

The Parent:

  • Shows little concern for the child
  • Denies the existence of, or blames the child for the child’s problems in school or at home
  • Asks teachers or other caretakers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves
  • Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome
  • Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve
  • Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs

The Parent and the Child:

  • Rarely touch or look at each other
  • Consider their relationship entirely negative
  • State that they do not like each other

Preventing Child Abuse

Learn about child abuse.  Educate yourself and keep these key facts in mind:

  • Child abusers can be any age, any gender and any race.  They can be from any economic class, and have any level of education.
  • Children are more likely to be abused by their own parents than by a stranger.
  • Rarely does an incident of child abuse happen in isolation.  When a child is abused once, it is likely to happen again.
  • Educate your neighbors and friends about child abuse.

Stop child abuse when you see it.  If you have trouble identifying the difference between child abuse and acceptable forms of discipline, learn the Federal and State laws and find resources that distinguish between discipline and abuse.  Do not hesitate to contact the National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-Child).  During your anonymous call, their counselors can help you evaluate the situation and help you make a child abuse report to the proper authorities.  If you are nervous about making a report, they will even stay on the line during a 3-way call to offer you support.  If a child is in life-threatening danger, call 911 immediately.

It’s time that people take a stand against child abuse.  Your simple actions will help prevent child abuse and give abused children hope for a brighter future.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

Why Kids Don’t Tell…Call To Action

April 4, 2011 Comments off

Why Kids Don’t Tell by Marlene Mish, Director of the Child Advocacy Center of Jackson County

One of the most frequent questions we get from the community is why kids don’t tell anyone about abuse, keep it a secret for so long, or never tell at all. A few facts will help us:

  • Researchers tell us that only about 30% of abused children tell an adult or ask for help.
  • Girls tell more often than boys. In fact, most boys never breathe a word of abuse, especially if it’s sexual, for their entire lives. And those who do often delay their disclosures, often for decades.
  • Many children who do get the courage up to tell an adult are not believed. If this happens, it is just another betrayal, and odds are they will keep their pain and secrets to themselves and suffer in silence.

Children have their own logic and value systems and unless we understand that, we will never understand why they keep heinous experiences to themselves. Here are just a few really valid reasons why a child would not tell anyone of abuse:

  • They feel shame. Most offenders tell the child it is her fault or that she caused him to act in this way. Since we have told children that adults are right, why should a child doubt that?
  • Children blame themselves for the abuse. They take the blame onto themselves and turn it inward and here begins a life of low self-esteem, depression, lack of self-worth, self-harming behaviors and the whole gamut of destructive paths.
  • The offender makes the child feel special, gives him gifts, and takes him on special outings and gives the child attention that he may not be getting at home. An offender in the home may single out one child for this grooming process.
  • The offender threatens the child.  “If you tell, I will kill your family.”  “If you tell, they are going to take your mom away.” “If you tell, I will hurt your dog.” If you tell, YOU are going to get into a lot of trouble for what you’ve been doing.” “No one will believe you over me.”
  • The child is too young to know that what is being done to her is wrong. She is told that it’s what adults do, how they play. The child doesn’t question the adult.
  • The child has no knowledge at all about sex and sees the abuse as normal.

This is just a sampling of the reasons so many children don’t tell. That doesn’t mean they don’t suffer. It is no wonder they have nightmares, can’t concentrate in school, act out with aggression or move inward to depression and try to harm themselves.


We as adults need to provide a safe place for children to tell.  As parents we need to talk to our kids about what they should do if anyone touches them inappropriately.  Also, our actions when a child discloses can either validate the child or contribute to the lifelong ill effects of the abuse.  The most important thing you can do is tell the child you believe them, that it is not their fault, and that they did the right thing telling you.  As adults we can prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

Via D2L

Take care and STAY SAFE!