A week of “firsts” 

May 1, 2012

A report — on the road — from SCAN’s Community Educator Sharon Crilly:

In the last full week of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, SCAN participated in a Prevent-a-thon and held its first Darkness to Light class at a faith-based site in Loudoun County!

The class provided an opportunity for 9 church staff members to become educated about the facts of child sexual abuse, clarify their organizational policies to keep children safe and learn how to respond should they become aware that a child is being abused.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcU8yQ0Q8fE] The discussions were lively. At one point, we had a chance to reflect upon the survivor stories told in the video. One survivor shared that her mother was aware that she was repeatedly sexually abused by a family member (during the 1940s and 1950s) but did nothing about it. A statement from a class participant made us all wonder what stories we will hear in 20, 30 or 40 years from today’s children about how they were sexually abused. Since 1 in 5 children receive sexual solicitations while on the internet, the participant wondered, “Will our children say ‘my parent knew, but didn’t do enough to protect me?'”  Our web-based society gives predators another avenue to reach children, a place where many parents are too often unaware of their children’s activities.

SCAN also participated this week in the Prince William County Child Protection Partnership‘s annual luncheon to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month. The theme this year was to honor the “Unknown Hero,” a special opportunity to recognize the adults who DO take a stand and make that phone call to report that a child is being abused. These individuals have made the decision that children come first.

Yes, it’s a fact that reporting child abuse can and does disrupt lives. There is really no way around that! So today at the end of a busy week of “firsts,” we reach out to YOU, our readers, to be that hero. For that one child that needs you. If you have already made that difficult call to Child Protective Services – THANK YOU! Posters will be displayed throughout Prince William County, Manassas City and the City of Manassas Park government buildings urging adults to be the “Unknown Hero” for a child and to report suspicions of child abuse.

And one final first — during the luncheon, we listened to the song “Childhood Dreams” written by current Penn State students and alumni in the wake of reported abuse incidences last fall. The song, performed by Joe Conrad, can be downloaded from iTunes with the proceeds going to the Darkness to Light Foundation. It is a very moving song and we thank those involved in its creation for shedding a light on the issue of child sexual abuse.

So, what will you do to put a child FIRST this week?

– Sharon