Original article by: Joseph Hamrick, The Commerce Journal
Commerce, TX — One out of every 10 children in the United States are sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18, according to researchers from Darkness to Light.
County Court-at-Law No. 1 Judge Andrew Bench said he wants that to end.
Bench spoke before the Retired Teachers Club inside the Alumni Center at Texas A&M University-Commerce about his partnership with Darkness to Light, an organization that equips citizens with tools to spot and prevent child sexual abuse.
Bench said a lot of the abuse is toward children less than 10-years-old.
It is for that reason he encourages people to sign up for training through Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® child sexual abuse prevention program. Bench said the program has seen great success in Hunt County.
When he presented the program to Greenville Mayor Steve Reid originally to train people in the parks and recreation department, Bench said Reid wanted more people trained, so Bench worked with the mayor to train 95 percent of the city of Greenville’s employees.
Since Bench is on the board of the Greenville YMCA, any person who works at the YMCA is now trained through the Darkness to Light program.
Another important group of people who are trained are Hunt County teachers.
“The superintendents all jumped on board and said ‘yes, we’ll all do it’,” he said. “We’re going to train every teacher in Hunt County on the program. Imagine the children who can be saved.”
Bench said he does all this on top of being a judge because he feels it is his duty to protect children.
“It is our duty as adults to raise our awareness to protect the children of our county,” he said. “If we can prevent one child from being victimized, it is worth every penny.”