Since its inaugural class on Aug. 22, a three-hour course is able to help State College residents to understand more about child sexual abuse prevention.
Stewards of Children is a nationally-based program that teaches simple skills and tools to help citizens recognize and prevent child sexual abuse.
Cindy McElhinney, director of programs at Darkness to Light, the organization which Stewards of Children is based from, said it is an adult’s responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse.
“Sometimes it may seem like it can be hard to step in for these situations, but we can help to empower people to recognize and intervene, but most importantly, to protect children,” McElhinney said.
The Stewards of Children program aims to have people respond early and make responsible decisions about how to stop abuse, McElhinney said.
“A main goal of our program is to give abused children the help that they need,” McElhinney said.
Cameron Frantz, Director of Community Outreach of the YMCA of Centre County and Stewards of Children course facilitator, said Stewards of Children has been a national movement, and the YMCA received a grant from Centre County. Other funded donations have helped bring the program to the county, as well.
“Child sexual abuse has always been an important issue, and it’s up to us as adults to create awareness and receive the proper education needed to prevent it in the right way,” Frantz said.
She said Stewards of Children has collaborated with the Centre County Women’s Resource Center and YMCA Youth Service to help promote the program.
Frantz said taking the class can be vital to residents of Centre County to learn how to recognize and react to child sexual abuse. She said the residents make up an amazing group of people.
State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham said she has heard many wonderful things about the program and plans to take a class next month.
“I have talked to several people who have taken it, and all have said that it has been very helpful to learning about how prevalent abuse is in boys and girls,” Goreham said.
Courtney Hayden, communications and grants coordinator for the State College Borough, said all borough employees will be required to take the class. The course involves a video of stories of abuse and discussions in between lessons, she said.
Hayden said the classes are free for citizens of Centre County and can also be taken online.
To email reporter: firstname.lastname@example.org