08/29/13 — YMCA targets child sexual abuse with new community program

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YMCA targets child sexual abuse with new community program

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 29, 2013 1:46 PM

The statistics of child sexual abuse are too alarming to ignore, says Kriquette Davis, associate executive director of the Goldsboro Family YMCA, which is launching an effort to bring training and education to Wayne County residents.

"One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday," she said. "Over 90 percent of the perpetuators know their victim."

It's no longer safe to assume incidents of abuse involve strangers, she said -- more often than not, the culprit is a trusted family friend or even a relative.

The goal, Mrs. Davis said, is to train 5,000 adults in the county during 2014. Starting in October, meetings and training will be made available in Wayne, Lenoir, Greene, Sampson and Pitt counties.

The program "Stewards of Children" is the curriculum of Darkness to Light, a national non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse. The organization has trained over 3,000 facilitators in 49 states and 10 countries, including Mrs. Davis.

"Our goal is to equip our adults in the Goldsboro area with the tools needed to prevent this from happening to kids," she said. "It is an adult's responsibility to protect kids. And we think that when our schools, churches, youth sports organizations and community organizations are educated and aware of this cause, we will make Goldsboro a stronger community to our kids."

The community awareness meetings will be offered free of charge and designed to bring residents together to hear about the issue and learn about its far-reaching impact -- not only emotionally and psychologically to the victim but also the economic affects on a community -- and what can be done to prevent it.

Mrs. Davis said she has already had discussions with teachers, guidance counselors and bus drivers about the problem, and is working with sponsors to help pay for program.

The two-hour video-based training are for "anybody and everybody," she said.

"Social workers and teachers can get continuing ed credit," she said. "For every adult that we train, it's just going to cut back on the incidences of abuse.

"The video has a lot of great testimonies, not only from victims but from pediatricians and law enforcement."

Some of the information shared is admittedly difficult to hear, Mrs. Davis said. But at the same time, it is helpful in alerting the public about what to look for and raising awareness of the issue.

She recalled something a school nurse recently shared with her about a little girl who frequented her office with headaches and stomach aches that had no apparent cause. The nurse, Mrs. Davis said, reported a "nagging feeling but didn't know why."

Until she went through the "Stewards of Children" training.

"She realized maybe there was more going on," she said. "It's one of those things, it makes a lightbulb go off."

Plans are to officially kick off the education and prevention campaign with a community town hall meeting Oct. 10, with the location to be announced, she said.

"We need everybody to step up and be supportive of it so we can do our due diligence," Mrs. Davis said.

For more information, contact Mrs. Davis at kriquette.davis@goldsboro ymca.org.