We may not like to think about it – or even believe it – but children experience sexual abuse at alarming rates. 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. (d2l.org)
As adults, we can do better to protect our children. We interact with children where they play, learn, and grow. How we interact in these settings can add to the adversity and trauma a child experiences or can create opportunities for care and thriving.
Many of these interactions happen at organizations like schools, churches, afterschool programs, day camps, daycares, sports leagues, and many other places where kids live their lives. There is an opportunity to create organizational cultures where child sexual abuse is discussed, addressed, and prevented. Shedding light on this traditionally taboo topic will create safer environments for children!
Missouri KidsFirst (MKF) and the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) have teamed up to work toward the goal of creating safer environments that center child wellbeing through policy and procedure development and review.
The collaborators were fortunate to find an existing training, Awareness to Action, developed by Children’s Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Board. (a2awisconsin.org)
Children’s Wisconsin developed and has provided the training to organizations in Wisconsin for 10 years. With permission, MKF and MOCSA are adapting this training to meet the needs of Missouri organizations.
The adapted training, Awareness to Action Missouri, is in the development and pilot phase.
Awareness to Action Missouri:
Awareness to Action Missouri is a training and technical assistance program for organizations based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guide Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations. Over the course of 6 months, participating organizations will receive in-depth training and support to implement prevention strategies to protect the children in their programs. Throughout the training participants will hear from experts in the field of child sexual abuse prevention and organizations who have taken steps to enhance their ability to protect children in their programs.
Participation in this Training Includes:
An initial 3-hour training to learn the 6 Best Practices developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect children through sound policies and procedures.
A structured action planning phase to develop concrete next steps based off each Best Practice.
Technical assistance and support from Missouri KidsFirst and MOCSA staff, including follow-up meetings 3 and 6 months after the initial training.
Formation of a community of practice with other organizations embarking on prevention policy work.
Awareness to Action Missouri training is being developed with funds from Missouri Children’s Trust Fund’s Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Initiative. Pilot trainings will be held in the Kansas City Area in June/July 2022. Additional CTF grantees will have the opportunity to share the training with their communities in Fall 2022. Missouri KidsFirst hopes to provide access to the training statewide at low or no cost in 2023.