While child sexual abuse often hides in the shadows, a program this week intends to illuminate ways to prevent it.
Grant County adults are invited to “Darkness into Light, Stewards of Children” from 2-4 p.m. Friday, April 27, at the Canyon City Community Hall.
Mary Ratliff, who will provide instruction, describes the program as an “evidence-informed training program designed to teach parents, youth-serving organizations and concerned individuals how to prevent, recognize and respond responsibly to child sexual abuse.”
Tracey Blood, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Oregon, who is a part of a local trauma-informed task force said, “These can be difficult conversations to have, but having them can be the first positive step in creating awareness.”
The training is part of an ongoing effort by the task force to increase awareness of child abuse prevention. The task force includes officials from Families First, Department of Human Services, Grant County Health Department, Prevent Child Abuse Oregon, Community Counseling Solutions, Heart of Grant County and local schools.
Lisa Weigum with Community Counseling Solutions said the task force saw a need for the Darkness to Light training in Grant County.
“We’re seeing these trends of mental health struggles, substance abuse, child abuse and neglect,” she said.
The school, city, county court, parks and recreation and others, she said, have “all been eager to do their part in raising awareness.”
Wade Cates of Boise, who is a 2013 Grant Union graduate, has been working with members of the task force to advocate for others who have experienced this type of abuse.
“As a survivor of childhood sex abuse, my goal is to highlight the ways in which adults can be better informed in their interactions with youth,” Cates said. “We do a great job in our community of stepping up for children, but all of us can take it a step further by being informed, learning prevention strategies, knowing how to identify the signs of abuse and acting responsibly when child abuse is suspected or confirmed.”
Cates said the training is an excellent opportunity for everyone in the community to learn how to be better youth mentors and to show they are committed to the safety of children.
“I cannot think of a valid reason for a child to be abused, ever,” he said. “It is the responsibility of the adults to take this issue seriously.”