A 40-year-old man raped a 7-year-old girl. A 2-year-old boy died with evidence of forcible sodomy by the mother’s 25-year-old boyfriend. A Cub Scout leader, a minister, a sports coach and a teacher were arrested for sexually abusing children.

This all happened in the past few days around the country – and it happens in our backyard, too.

“It happens right here. The very worst-case scenarios are happening here,” Anna D’Herde, community outreach coordinator at the Barren River Area Child Advocacy Center, said earlier this month.

An estimated 1 in 10 children will experience child sexual abuse before their 18th birthday – thus constituting one of the most significant public health crises for children. And like most other threats to children’s health, it’s largely preventable.

That’s why we urge citizens to take advantage of the trainings offered by BRACAC to prevent and end child sexual abuse.

The child advocacy nonprofit Darkness to Light designed the trainings, but D’Herde can customize them to individuals or groups, such as schools, guidance counselors, churches and community organizations.

Each training is free and two hours long, during which “you learn to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse,” D’Herde said.

For prevention, D’Herde discusses the five steps to preventing child sexual abuse: learn the facts; minimize opportunity – such as avoiding situations in which a child is alone with an adult; talk about it; recognize the physical, emotional and behavioral signs; and react responsibly – as in believe the children if they disclose abuse.

Hundreds of children report sexual abuse in the Barren River region each year. For the children who do report, they face disbelief from loved ones, or perhaps lawyers defending their sexual abuser as a “good parent,” “good spouse” or “Christian person.”

“The training talks about what to do when a child discloses abuse,” D’Herde said, including “how to report and who to call.”

After adults have learned the issues, they’ll learn how to teach children about understanding their own boundaries, like “making sure they speak up if someone is doing something that makes them uncomfortable,” D’Herde said.

To learn more about trainings, contact D’Herde at 270-783-4357 or a.dherde@bracac.org.

“Those who receive the training are aware and will be more likely to step in,” D’Herde said.

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