State hopes to train 35,000 Delawareans in child abuse prevention effort

A training program on how to recognize signs of child abuse hopes to reach five-percent of Delaware’s population within five years.

Attorney General Beau Biden and leaders of Prevent Child Abuse Delaware gathered at the YMCA in Wilmington Wednesday to announce a coordinated effort to enlist 35,000 Delawareans as Stewards of Children.  According to Biden, one of every four girls are sexually abused before age 18 and one out of every six boys will be abused, but only about one of every ten reach out for help. 

Delaware already has a law that requires suspected abuse of a child to be reported to authorities or through the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-292-9582.  However, Biden says many adults don’t know what to look for.  Trained facilitators are now working through various community organizations to reach out to adults from all walks of life and train them in how to spot possible indications of abuse of a child.

“If we can get five-percent of our population to do it, we will change the dialogue and we will save and protect kids in a way that we’ve never been able to do in the state,” Biden said.

The Stewards of Children program is a seven-step initiative developed by Darkness to Light, a grassroots non-profit organization based in South Carolina.  Its focus includes minimizing situations where a child is left alone with an adult, even if that adult is trusted or in a position of authority.  Also, the program identifies behavior patterns and changes to recognize in a child that may be an indicator of abuse.

“This is an important initiative, and it is one that can actually make a difference,” Prevent Child Abuse Delaware Executive Director Karen DeRasmo said. 

According to Delaware Chief Family Court Judge Chandlee Kuhn, the training initiative is a perfect companion with existing mandatory reporting laws.  That’s why Family Court made a commitment to have every one of its employees trained.  To date, 245 of the approximately 330 people who work in Family Court have gone through the program.

“I really do believe Delaware will be a safer place,” Kuhn said.

To find out more about training sessions, call Prevent Child Abuse Delaware at 302-425-7490 or visit www.pcadelaware.org.

To find out more about Darkness to Light, CLICK HERE.

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