WAAY 31 learned about a program the National Children’s Advocacy Center offers in Huntsville to anyone in the community who wants to do more to keep kids safe from sexual abuse. It’s called The Stewards of Children program.
Pam Clasgens, the Community Awareness and Prevention Director at the National Children’s Advocacy Center, said it has adjusted to keep going throughout the pandemic.
“You don’t have to work with kids or volunteer with kids to get something out of this training. You don’t even have to be a parent. Anyone who is around kids at all, if you know this information, you are better equipped to protect kids at any point in your life,” she said.
Child sexual abuse doesn’t stop during a coronavirus pandemic, she explained, so the Stewards of Children Program is offered virtually so training to protect children can continue.
“Sexual abuse is an ongoing problem in our community and in every community across the country, and 1 in 10 children is going to be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. We don’t want to see that happen. We want to protect kids and we want everyone to know how to make that happen,” she said.
The program features real people and stories to provide expert advice and guidance to community members about how to protect children from sexual abuse.
“It’s essentially child sexual abuse prevention training for adults. This training is appropriate for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, anybody who works with or volunteers with kids in any setting,” she said.
Clasgens said they discuss simple strategies with participants on how to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.
“As adults who care about kids, we can learn, these signs of manipulation or behavior, that’s not appropriate and we can step up and say something about it,” she said.
She said because sexual abuse can happen anywhere, if you spot inappropriate behavior, it’s important to say something about it to hopefully prevent the abuse from happening.
“If we as adults in this community can step up and speak up and point out, that’s really not okay, we really shouldn’t talk to kids that way and then just move on, that sets everyone on notice that we’re watching for that kind of behavior and we are going to speak up if we see it,” she said.
The program is provided by a grant that the National Children’s Advocacy Center receives, and they ask participants who are able to to make a $10 donation to keep the program going.
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