Rosie Morales from the state of Delaware Office of the Child Advocate leads discussion at a recent Stewards of Children training program, offered through the Office of Human Resources.

Addressing child abuse

Stewards of Children workshops address child sexual abuse

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12:01 p.m., June 20, 2012--Child advocates say that the sexual abuse of children remains an overwhelming national problem. Experts and law enforcement professionals also say they believe that adults have an individual and collective responsibility to protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of the community from this abuse.

To help members of the University of Delaware campus community better understand what they can do about child sexual abuse, the Office of Human Resources is offering a Stewards of Children training initiative.

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The Stewards of Children training program teaches adults about how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. 

The three-hour workshops combine video commentary and workbook discussions moderated by representatives from state and local agencies dealing with child sexual abuse and prevention.

Facilitators Rosie Morales, program administrator, and Jessica Begley, Criminal Justice Act (CJA) training coordinator, both from the state of Delaware Office of the Child Advocate, recently led a workshop on Thursday, June 7, at the Human Resources offices at 413 Academy St. 

The workshop was the latest in a series that have taken place in various departmental units across the UD campus. 

“Our mission is to protect the children in the community,” said Morales. “Our goal is to train 35,000 people in Delaware by the year 2016.”

The Darkness to Light organization, which is aimed at ending child sexual abuse, offers the Stewards of Children program, which highlights four tools to protect children, beginning with a consciousness that includes putting structures into place to protect children from sexual abuse.

Additional tools include choosing to match good intentions with personal action, personal power to take action despite the uncertainty of the outcome, and a relentless compassion that combines respect for others with a demand for accountability. 

Augmenting the workbook materials is a Seven Steps to Protecting Our Children guide for responsible adults that encourages them to:

  • Learn the facts and understand the risk;
  • Minimize opportunity for abuse (eliminate or reduce one adult/one child situations);
  • Talk about it (children often keep abuse a secret, but barriers can be broken down by talking openly about it);
  • Stay alert: Don’t expect obvious signs when a child is being sexually abused. Signs are often there, but you’ve got to spot them;
  • Make a plan. Learn where to go, whom to call and how to react;
  • Act on suspicions. The future well-being of a child is at stake; and
  • Get involved. Volunteer and financially support organizations that fight the tragedy of child sexual abuse. 

“The greatest response you can give to a child is to say, ‘I believe you,’” Begley said. “You should praise the child’s courage and be proud of them and tell them you are there to support and protect them.”

For parents, educators and others responsible for the welfare of children, commitment means individual awareness and sharing information at the community level, Begley said. 

“Make your organization aware that training is available,” Begley said. “Be as broad an advocate for children as you can."

For more information on Stewards of Children workshops at UD, visit this website.

Units or departments on campus interested in having specific groups of employees trained together should contact Employee Education and Development

Article by Jerry Rhodes

Photos by Lane McLaughlin

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