In 2011, PCANJ established the New Jersey Partnership to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse, focused on replicating a research-based prevention strategy, the Enough Abuse Campaign. The Partnership brought together leaders and experts in child welfare and the field of child sexual abuse from all parts of the state with a commitment to work together to prevent child sexual abuse before it ever happens. In addition, the Partnership selected three communities — Mercer County, Warren/Sussex Counties and Newark – to mobilize a community-wide effort to educate parents and adults about the true facts about child sexual abuse and simple steps every adult can take to better protect children.
Each community is led by a local organization, including PEI Kids in Mercer, Project Self-Sufficiency in Warren/Sussex, and Wynona’s House in Newark. These organizations have now trained more than 75 volunteer trainers in their communities in the Enough Abuse curriculum, who will now train hundreds of other adults in their community each year.
The NJ Alliance of YMCA’s represents 41 YMCA’s across the State which have pledged to train “master trainers” in their communities using the nationally-regarded “Darkness to Light” curriculum. The Y’s propose to reach 5% of the adults in each of their communities to reach a critical “tipping point” that changes the culture and community awareness about ways to prevent child sexual abuse. The Y’s are also joining the NJ Partnership’s State Leadership group, focused on developing stronger policies and practices in New Jersey that can protect all children from child sexual abuse.
One of the key challenges in the field of child sexual abuse is the fact that much of the public’s attention focuses on what happens after a tragedy has occurred, including questions about reporting and enforcement. Unfortunately, our society cannot stop child sexual abuse by identifying victims after a crime has occurred or by arresting perpetrators. Any major public health challenge can only be ended by preventing cases before they occur. And that is the pledge from both PCANJ and New Jersey’s YMCAs.
By joining forces, New Jersey brings together the YMCA’s community presence, leadership and reputation of one of the State’s leading organizations serving youth with PCANJ, the State’s foremost leader in prevention, with expertise and programs operating in all 21 counties.
Rush Russell, Executive Director of PCANJ stated, “Too many parents still believe the major threat to their children is from a stranger, when the facts point out that 90% of cases are committed by someone known and trusted by the victim and family. Today’s partnership will help us mobilize an army of prevention that includes parents, and leaders from businesses, faith-based institutions, the media, nonprofit organizations, schools, universities, and law enforcement. We’re thrilled to be joining in this powerful new partnership with NJ’s YMCAs to end child sexual abuse in New Jersey.”
Bill Lovett, Executive Director of the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, stated “The YMCA is committed to the protection of the New Jersey’s children and we are thrilled to have PCANJ as our collaborative partner in the prevention of child sexual abuse. Their passion for this work is equaled by their strong knowledge base, and we look forward to jointly impacting such an important societal issue.”