Beau Biden Foundation education program aims to prevent child sexual abuse

(photo courtesy Beau Biden Foundation)

(photo courtesy Beau Biden Foundation)

The Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children is educating the public about child sexual abuse.

Education is a pillar for the foundation and understanding the warning signs and other important information can prevent abuse in the future, and help a child going through abuse quicker and more effectively.

The foundation will partner with Widener University Delaware Law School in Wilmington to host the “Stewards of Children” training in April, which also is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“Children can’t protect themselves and it’s our responsibility to stand up and protect these children,” said Patricia Dailey Lewis, executive director of the foundation and a Delaware Law School adjunct professor and 1985 alumna.

One in 10 children will be abused before they turn 18 and 90 percent of child victims know their abuser, according to the foundation. In addition, of all children who are sexually abused one fifth are abused once they turn 8 years old.

Lewis, who is facilitating the training, said she once met one woman who was molested by her father, who later molested her own daughter.

“Sometimes we see this type of abuse crossing generational lines, and it’s extremely stressful and emotional for a family,” she said.

The foundation was established June 2015 as an operating non-profit to continue the late Beau Biden’s commitment to protecting children.

The foundation believes child abuse can be prevented through effective education, by developing the next generation of child welfare professionals and by strengthening child protection laws around the country.

“Beau was so committed to training people to recognize the problem and to start talking about it. He used to say, ‘Until we get someone to shine a bright light on this it’s not going to get better,’” Lewis said. “Beau would be very proud.”

The trademarked program offered at the university this month was developed by Darkness to Light, a national non-profit organization dedicated to ending child sexual abuse.

The evidence-informed training teaches adults how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. It’s designed for youth-serving organizations and for individuals concerned about children’s safety. The event will be the foundation’s first training session completely open to the public.

Participants will learn about statistics, the consequences of abuse and its economic impact. They will understand what Lewis calls the “five steps to protecting children”—learning the facts, minimizing opportunity, talking about the problem, recognizing the emotional and behavioral signs and reacting responsibly.

“If you don’t react the right way it could be the last time a child has any chance of someone protecting them,” Lewis said.

The foundation and law school are covering all material costs for the training sessions, and law school staff, faculty and students are encouraged to attend.

Dean Rodney Smolla said lawyers interact with families on a regular basis, as well as with organizations serving children—so it’s important students and faculty learn the steps to prevent abuse and are able to advise other organizations.

He said he hopes the school will continue to partner with the foundation to offer more programs like this. Smolla also said it would be beneficial if more states enacted legislation that requires similar training on a regular bases. 

“The cause is enormously important, determining child abuse is a major priority, and it’s a wonderful mission of the Beau Biden Foundation,” he said. “The law school is a natural partner in that because it’s an issue that’s important to the society in general and the legal community.”

The two-and-a-half-hour trainings will be held in the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom in the Main Law Building at 4601 Concord Pike in Wilmington. The sessions will be held as follows:

·        Monday, April 11 at 1:30 p.m.

·        Tuesday, April 12 at 5:30 p.m.

·        Wednesday, April 13 at 11 a.m.

·        Thursday, April 14 at 7 p.m.

There is no cost to attend. Those planning to attend are asked to notify Constance Sweeney at the law school by email at or phone at 302.477.2177.

To learn more about the foundation’s upcoming educational initiatives visit its website at


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