Berkeley Schools first in nation to set standard for child sexual abuse prevention

MONCKS CORNER, SC (Aug. 24, 2011) / www.berkeley.k12.sc.us / –  The Berkeley County School District has taken the lead in a national initiative to prevent child sexual abuse.  The District was recognized recently by Charleston-based Darkness to Light (D2L) as the first school district in the nation to achieve D2L’s “Partner in Prevention” designation, a nationally-recognized standard reached when 100-percent of an organization’s members have completed child sexual abuse prevention training.

“We are thankful for the leadership of local organizations like the Berkeley County School District,” said Jolie Logan, Chief Operating Office for D2L.  “They’ve set the bar for others, by showing that they will take action to protect children from this most devastating crime.”

D2L has championed the movement to end child sexual abuse since 2000, and currently operates education programs in 49 states and 15 countries.  The “Partner in Prevention” program helps parents and caregivers identify organizations that have completed the required training.

The district had been working towards designation since 2009.  Steps taken include: training staff that interact with youth; conducting criminal background checks on staff and volunteers who work with youth; and implementing policies that limit opportunities for one adult to be alone with a child.  To maintain the designation, the district will provide training to new employees, and repeat training for all staff every three years.

“With this designation, we are sending a clear message to parents that the district is committed to preventing child sexual abuse,” said Superintendent Rodney Thompson.  “We want families to know their children are safe in our schools.  Our employees are trained to recognize the signs of child sexual abuse, and are prepared to have open dialogue about the issue to prevent it from impacting our students.”

Studies have long cited child sexual abuse for its devastating impact on society.  According to the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse & Neglect, 500,000 babies born in the U. S. each year will be sexually abused before they reach age 18.

On a state-wide level, a D2L partnership with the South Carolina Department of Education has also achieved national honors.  State teachers and school staff lead the nation, with over fifty-percent of the state’s teachers having completed the training.

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