MACOMB – WIRC-CAA Victim Services holds free educational trainings throughout the year to raise awareness about sexual assault, harassment, and consent. During the early stages of the pandemic, these trainings were hosted by online video conference. Now that some restrictions in Illinois are lifted, Victim Services is ready to resume these essential face-to-face educational trainings.
Victim Services Preventionst Debbie has been teaching for many years. Debbie is familiar to many west-central Illinois K-12 school administrators for providing lessons to students such as identifying trusted adults, healthy relationships, and unsafe situations.
Debbie emphasizes that each lesson is age-appropriate, and that children often listen intensely and respond. “Although these are tough topics, I find that many of the listeners have a lot of questions, share scenarios, and take the information seriously,” says Debbie. “Content with each age group will vary depending on the topic, venue, and participants’ comfort levels.”
Prevention education is required at public K-12 schools in Illinois, and Debbie wants local school administrators to know that Victim Services can help them meet the requirement. “The Erin’s Law mandate requires that all public schools implement child-focused sexual abuse prevention education that provides children, parents, and guardians with information on the warning signs of child sexual abuse, plus any needed assistance, referrals, or resources to support victims and their families.” In addition to the Erin’s Law mandate, Victim Services offers education and prevention activities on any topic surrounding sexual violence, teen dating violence, healthy relationships, and bystander intervention.
The free trainings are available to anyone who wants to learn more about sexual assault prevention and consent. Daycares, local businesses, clubs, religious groups, and individuals are also encouraged to schedule an appointment. “The education is important for victims/survivors, parents, organizations, businesses, and the community, including bystanders,” Debbie said. “When we witness a situation or behavior that makes us concerned, we need to speak up.” She continued that in-person, including one-on-one, opportunities also provide the children and adults with a more confidential environment that allows the comfort to ask questions, disclose, and seek other services that they may not want to discuss in a public setting.
As of July 2020, the following topics are offered: “Second Step Child Protection Early Learning” for Pre-K through 5th grade children; “Shifting Boundaries” for grades 6-7; “Safe Dates” for grades 8-12; “Bringing in the Bystander” for grades 9-12; “Consent” for grades 6-12; “Illinois Imagines: Sex Education for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities”; and professional/community trainings. Professional and community trainings include any or all of the following lessons: human trafficking; online safety; red flags of sexual abuse; bystander intervention; workplace sexual harassment; Title XI; first responder training; and presentations about the agency’s services.
The CDC social distancing guidelines must be followed during any face-to-face meetings. Trainings can be held indoors, virtually, or outdoors at a designated area. All attendees must wear a facial covering.
Victim Services is offering free virtual and face-to-face prevention education lessons by appointment. To schedule an appointment or learn more information, contact Preventionist Debbie by calling (309) 836-2148 or emailing Deborah@wirpc.org.
If you or someone you know have experienced abuse at any point in your life, call Victim Services’ 24-hour free and confidential crisis hotline at (309) 837-5555.