The problem of child sexual abuse has attracted a great deal of attention in our area. The American media has reported a number of cases in which persons in positions of trust, including coaches, day care providers and clergymen, have been accused or convicted of molesting children under their care. With national publicity of child sexual abuse hitting so close to home for us here in Blair County, the Blair County Chamber’s Growth and Relationships of Young Professionals (GRYP) thought it was time to offer training to our organizations, institutions and caregivers who work and interact with children to help raise awareness to this overwhelming problem.
“This is a taboo subject for a lot of people,” said Jessica Meck, Vice-President of Membership Services and Development for The Chamber. “Abuse is something that many will turn a blind eye, but ignorance when it comes to our kids should not be something we accept so easily. Many times sexual abuse can happen right under our noses. This is not acceptable.”
The impact of sexual violence on an individual is life-changing and many times children are not able to fully comprehend what is happening until it is too late. Statistics show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Not only that, but in 90 percent of sexual abuse cases, the child and the child’s family know and trust the abuser.
“We wanted to offer something to help our community recognize the signs of child sexual abuse and prevent it from happening to the youth in our area,” exclaimed Mike McMullen, GRYP steering committee member. “We believe preventing child sexual abuse is everyone’s job and we hope that this training will help make Blair County a stronger community.”
The program’s presenters, the Stewards of Children, was created by experts in the field of prevention and is the only nationally available program proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child protective behaviors. The training will also help identify the signs of a child that is sexually abused and will outline who is a mandated child abuse reporter. All participants will receive a certificate of completion and training materials. The 2 hour training counts for 3 contact hours of continuing education credits by the National Association of Social Workers and the National Board of Certified Counselors.
If you are a volunteer or a professional who works with children as part of your job, this training is essential for you. This also includes daycares, faith centers, recreation departments, youth organizations, group leaders, healthcare, non-profits, educational institutions and anyone wanting to gain the knowledge on how to deal with these tough situations.
The cost to attend this important training is $10 per person and $5 per person for any group sending 5 or more people. The training will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 16th at the Penn State Altoona Devorris Downtown Conference Center. Help protect our future by reserving your spot now for this important training at www.blairchamber.com or call the Chamber at 814-943-8151.
GRYP and The Chamber would also like to thank our corporate sponsors for the event: Signature Sponsors – Sheetz and Home Nursing Agency; Educational Sponsors – Altoona Regional Health System and Geisinger Health System, as well as Penn State Altoona for their help with providing this training.