Thomasville Times Enterprise

March 3, 2014

Schools offer training on child sexual abuse dangers

Susanne Reynolds

THOMASVILLE — On Feb. 25, Thomasville City Schools (TCS) gave parents an opportunity all of their faculty and staff completed— a training program on the dangers of child sexual abuse.

The training for the parents was provided at MacIntyre Park Middle School. It was a way to make parents more proactive in their children’s lives and knowledgeable about potential dangers.

A video called “Darkness to Light: End Child Sexual Abuse” was shown and then the trainers led a discussion with the parents. No personal stories were to be shared. They received a mix of survivor stories, expert advice and practical guidance for preventing child sexual abuse.

Parents also learned about making choices, taking risks and supporting one another; and received simple strategies to prevent and respond to sexual abuse.

With programs such as this one, TCS is being proactive in informing the faculty, staff and parents about the dangers of child sexual abuse.

They are working to raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse by educating adults about the steps they can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse.

The process began by presenting the “Darkness to Light” program to all employees of the school system. All have completed the program training.

It was taught by Stephanie Hardy and Tiffany Oldham, who received the Williams Family Foundation of Georgia Inc. Scholarship, making it possible for them to be trained in the “Darkness to Light” program. They were the TCS facilitators to the faculty, staff and community parents. Because of this training, TCS is an official Stewards of Light System.

The program is non-profit and a nationwide that recently made its way to a Times Square billboard.

Elizabeth Copp, the parent involvement coordinator at MacIntyre Park Middle School, said, “Thomasville City Schools are proud to be apart of a program that has received national recognition for such an important cause.”

Before the program began — the following statistics were shared:

• 1 in 10 children will be sexual abused before their 18th birthday.

• 90 percent of these cases will occur with someone their family knows and trusts.

• 1 in 4 of those sexual abused will be girls.

• 1 in 6 of those abused will be boys.

Trainers informed the parents, staff and faculty that this happens in Thomasville daily. They sought to bring the matter to their attention and currently — with all the staff and faculty in the school system being trained — parents can feel that their children are better protected while in school.

Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.