April 11, 2013 – LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. — In observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, PEI Kids/ The Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse has organized several workshops and a day-long training to raise awareness about child sexual abuse and mobilize our community to protect children.
“Child sexual abuse is a public health epidemic, with 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys experiencing some form of sexual abuse before they turn 18,” explains Penny Ettinger, Executive Director of PEI Kids—a nonprofit organization based in Lawrenceville, NJ, that is dedicated to keeping children safe. “Because of the silence around this issue, it is estimated that 90% of sexual abuse cases are never reported.”
Led by PEI Kids, and as part of the national “Enough Abuse” Campaign, the Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse has taken the initiative to educate every adult who lives in and/or works in Mercer County on how to recognize the behavior signs indicating abuse in children, recognize behavior signs indicating risky behavior in adults, respond appropriately to children who disclose abuse, and report suspected abuse. Through this education, parents, teachers, siblings, pediatricians and others caregivers will be able to better prevent the sexual abuse of the children in their lives.
The workshops are based on the Enough Abuse curriculum and community trainers have participated in specialized train-the-trainer program by the founder of the Campaign. The Enough Abuse Campaign (www.enoughabuse.org) started out of Massachusetts as a grassroots movement to end the silence around child sexual abuse through educating citizens. For more information or to register for a workshop or training, contact Hera Mir at [email protected].
Upcoming events, which are free and open to the public, include:
· On Thursday, April 18th at 9am and Monday, April 22nd at 2pm, community trainers will be conducting a training workshop, in Lawrenceville and Trenton, at Little Kids College, a local pre-school, for parents and educators of young children. The workshop, “She Said What, He did What,” is geared for Early Childhood Educators who work with children ages 0 to 5. The goal of the training is to demonstrate a model for responding to sexual behaviors to promote healthy child development and prevent child sexual abuse.
· On Monday April 22nd from 6:30pm – 8:30pm, the Coalition, in partnership with Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office-Child Advocacy Center, is presenting “It’s Not Just Jenna.” This workshop includes a showing of an 18-minute video about a girl named Jenna’s story of the abuse she faced and presented by Michael Weinstein from the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention team at American Academy of Pediatrics, and Daisy Freer, Ph.D, Clinical Coordinator at Family Transition Support Services. In addition, Beverly Regan, Multi-Disciplinary Team Coordinator, along with an Assistant Prosecutor and Detective from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office-Special Victim’s Unit, will be speaking about reporting child physical and sexual abuse and the prosecution of those cases.
· On Saturday, April 27th, from 9:30am -4:30pm, PEI Kids/The Greater Mercer Coalition will join TCNJ’s Department of Counseling Education to present, “Understanding and Responding to Child Sexual Abuse,” a day-long training at TCNJ for counselors, educators, medical professionals and community members. Attendees will learn how to prevent child sexual abuse by understanding the issue in a public health context, how to identify and care for victims of child sexual abuse, and how to respond appropriately. Training session topics and speakers include, “Child Sexual Abuse as a Public Health Epidemic,” presented by Dr. Elizabeth Susan Hodgson, M.D., FAAP; “Counseling Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused,” presented by Dr. Wendy Matthews, Ph.D; “Understanding and Responding to the Sexual Behaviors of Children,” presented by Sylvie Snyder, LSCW; “When a Child Abuses Another Child,” presented by Robin Scheiner, Esq.; and “How to Respond to and Report Child Sexual Abuse,” presented by Detective Annette Henderson from the Princeton Police Department.
Also in April, PEI Kids’ volunteer, Heather Silivanch, a graduate student in The College of New Jersey’s (TCNJ) Department of Counseling Education, will conduct five workshops for the College’s students. The workshops teach future teachers, who may be the first to notice that a student may be being abused, what behavior signs to look for in children, how to respond if they suspect abuse and how to report suspected abuse.
Key organizations and individuals on the Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse include: PEI Kids; Camp Fire-NJ; Catholic Charities Trenton-Family Growth Program; East Windsor School District; Mercer County Commission on Abused, Neglected and Missing Children; Mercer County Department of Human Services; Mercer County Office, Division of Child Protection and Permanency, NJ Department of Children and Families; Mercer County, Office of County Prosecutor; Mercer County, Child Advocacy Center, Multidisciplinary Team; WomanSpace, Domestic Violence Services; American Academy of Pediatrics, New Jersey Chapter; Annette Henderson, Princeton Township Police Officer; Ursula Miguel, CNM, Adolescent Medicine Practitioner; The Reverend Daryl L. Armstrong, Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church, Trenton; and Keith Smith, Adult Survivor.