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More training needed

June 19, 2013 |

Every day we hear stories of children who were sexually abused while under the care of staff at schools, churches, and other youth-serving organizations. As a parent I am both disturbed that so many children are being harmed and outraged that most of these organizations charged with caring for our children (including our own public schools in Massachusetts) still do nothing to prevent these horrific crimes. Most sexual abuse happens at the hands of trusted adults after a grooming process that manipulates the child and the adults around the child. Because of this grooming process, the majority of the time a trained adult could intervene before inappropriate behavior escalates to reportable sexual abuse. Caring adults will be more likely to step in to protect a child from being sexually abused if they know what to look for, what to do with information about or suspicions regarding abuse, and how to act. Organizations such as Enough Abuse ( www.enoughabuse.org ) and Darkness to Light (www.D2L.org) provide very cost effective training in preventing the sexual abuse of children. Despite what we would like to believe, sexual abuse happens in schools every day. How many more children will have to silently suffer before we stop this ridiculous charade of "it couldn't happen here?" Children will continue to be sexually abused all around us until we take a stand and refuse to allow predators easy access to our children. Some states such as Texas, Vermont, Missouri and Illinois have passed Erin's Law which requires sexual abuse prevention training in all public schools. Until Massachusetts steps up and passes a similar law, we as parents must demand that the schools where our children spend much of their time train staff members in how to protect our kids. Jennifer Falcone Longmeadow

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