Dana Bentley, left, and Kimberly Cousineau place their name badge on a board to show their support and commitment of becoming a Stewards of Children for the Darkness to Light child sexual abuse prevention program.
LAURA GREENE | HPE (13/0926)
HIGH POINT — North Carolina
Nonprofit leaders gathered in the fellowship hall of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church to be made aware of a silent epidemic in Guilford County.
Child sexual abuse is the most expensive victim crime in the U.S., except for murder. Darkness to Light child sex abuse prevention program aims to bring the issue from behind its shield of secrecy and educate adults.
At the kickoff event for the YMCA’s new program, David Ozmore, CEO of YMCA of High Point, shared stories of victims of child sexual abuse from the Catholic church, schools and others.
“It’s not a church problem. It’s not a coach problem. It’s not a camp problem. It’s a community problem,” Ozmore said. “As a community, we have to stand up for our kids.”
One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. More than 90 percent of the perpetrators know their victims.
The mission of the program is to raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse by educating adults about the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly.
Ozmore said he wants to train 5 percent of the adult population in Davidson, Guilford and Randolph counties, train 2,500 adults by December 2014, and have 15,300 adults trained by 2016. The way the program can reach those goals is by nonprofit leaders having a trained facilitator train their staffs in becoming Stewards of Children who can recognize and help prevent child sexual abuse.
“As an adult with three children, as an adult leading a youth-serving organization, I have an unbelievable passion and fire to protect my children. They’re mine,” Ozmore said. “They are here because of me, and I hope they are thriving and surviving because of me.”
Written by Jordan Howse | firstname.lastname@example.org | 888-3617
High Point Enterprise