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Stewards of Children training needs community-wide participation

By Kay S. Pedrotti The next Stewards of Children training session for persons interested in helping stop child sexual abuse in the Lamar County area has been set for Aug. 16, 9 a.m. to noon at the Georgia Fletcher Community Room. The room is at the Barnesville Housing Authority, 285 Indian Trail Rd. in Barnesville. Renee English, at present Lamar’s only trained facilitator for the training, says, ‘This training helps everyone recognize situations in which child sexual abuse may be happening or about to happen. It’s not just for professionals or certain agencies. Churches, schools, businesses and concerned individuals will be better equipped to understand why it’s important for everyone in the community to be on watch and respond effectively.’ More people in this area are being trained as facilitators, she adds. The goal of the program, under state sponsorship through the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy and Darkness to Light, is to have at least 100 people trained by the end of 2013. Two sessions for agencies will be held before Aug. 16 but are closed to the public because of the confidential nature of the organizations. ’This is different from other programs,’ English says. ‘the previous Stop It Now program has now been folded into Stewards for Children and the mandated reporter training is entirely different.’ Mandated reporter training, called Prevent Child Abuse Lamar, is free and available through April Smith at A.D. Smith Community Service in the E.P. Roberts Center, 770-358-3311. Both English and Smith stress the importance of mandated reporter training for everyone who works or volunteers with children; it is state law as of this year. ’Examples would be parks and recreation employees, coaches or volunteers; Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders or others who volunteer occasionally with children; summer camp or program leaders or volunteers; everyone connected with day care centers or after-school programs. If you’re in doubt whether your people need training, it’s better to get it anyway. Call us for information at 770-358-3311,’ Smith notes. English is working with Krista Gonce of the GCCA, whose program presentation on child sexual abuse and Stewards for Children got the Lamar County Family Connection Collaborative involved here. English represents the Barnesville Housing Authority and Smith the ADS Community Service on the collaborative. ’Stewards of Children training gives participants an in-depth look at the occurrence of child sexual abuse and the consequences to survivors. Evidence shows one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they reach adulthood, usually by someone they know and trust. The more people watching for child predators, the better chance there is the perpetrators won’t have as many opportunities to hurt our children,’ says English. To register for the Aug. 16 training session, call English at 770-358-3935. Class size is limited to 25 people and the per-person fee is $15.

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