By Taylor Gabbey, HRI Graduate Assistant

Unfortunately, we live in a world where child abuse happens. Recent statistics estimate that 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before age 18. Child sexual abuse happens across all races, religions, and socioeconomic classes, and as the seemingly unending string of news scandals proves, it can happen even within our most trusted communities. Most adults are already aware of this harsh truth, but not many know how to help children who are being abused. We always instruct children to “tell a trusted adult,” but what do you do when you are the trusted adult?

This is where Darkness to Light can help. Darkness to Light is a national nonprofit that trains adults to recognize, prevent, and report child sexual abuse. Through lectures, modules, and their Stewards for Children flagship program, they provide adults with the tools and knowledge to recognize the signs of child abuse and put a stop to it as soon as possible. These resources are available for anyone who works with children, be they a parent, teacher, coach, youth leader, or just a caring individual. The modules are informative and affordable, so everyone can become an advocate for children. As Carol Hogue, the Programs Quality Assurance Specialist for Darkness to Light, puts it: “We all need to be the eyes and ears that protect children.”

The biggest program offered by Darkness to Light is their Stewards of Children program that trains adults how to recognize sexual abuse and how to report it to the proper authorities. This program is available both online and in person. While Darkness to Light is based in Charleston, SC, local adults and organizations can still access in-person training at local child advocacy centers. Both the Charlotte and Fayetteville advocacy centers offer the training, or locals can register for the online course. It only takes 2 hours to learn how to help a child in need.

In addition to the Stewards of Children program, Darkness to Light offers supplementary courses for those who have already completed the program or similar advocate training. These courses range from bystander intervention, to mandated reporting, to defining healthy touch for children. Darkness to Light will also be at the upcoming National Prevention Conference in Tennessee. To learn more about all these programs and events, visit www.d2l.org.

Ending child sexual abuse is a community effort. Darkness to Light does everything they can to equip adults to protect children from that abuse. As Ms. Hogue said, “We all have a responsibility.” With the right skillset, caring adults can work to put a stop to sexual abuse one child at a time. For more information, visit Darkness to Light’s website, www.d2l.org, or call 866.FOR.LIGHT.