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FRC to host child protection session March 6

Posted: February 26, 2018 5:19 p.m.
Updated: February 27, 2018 1:00 a.m.

The Family Resource Center (FRC) is hosting “Protecting our Children from Child Sexual Abuse,” March 6 at 5:30 p.m. The event will be held at Camden City Arena at 517 Bull Street.

Protecting our Children will equip attendees with knowledge on how to report sexual abuse and assist victims in healing. Because of the nature of the discussion, children cannot attend the event.

“We will be discussing ways to appropriately handle disclosures from children and help (attendees) understand who to report to,” FRC Executive Director Rosalyn Smith Stover said.

Stover said she speaks to approximately 6,000 children in a year about sexual abuse but only speaks to a couple of hundred adults. While she supports educating children, Smith-Stover believes adults must prioritize learning how to prevent and protect children from sexual abuse.

“We can’t keep putting the burden on children to protect themselves. We must know things we can do as a community to let children know we are keeping them safe in the first place. Whether it’s the faith community or school community, we need to ensure we know how to make our children safe,” Stover said.

Attendees will also learn indicators of abuse and ways to make sure a child knows how to report the abuse.

“We will discuss signs that show something might be going on with the child. We will also discuss the importance of children knowing the appropriate names of their body parts,” Stover said.

Attendees will also learn what to look for in certain perpetrators who will attempt to gain the trust of the child and the child’s family. Stover said this topic is especially important considering the recent case of USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.

“The reality is that perpetrators have over 200 victims in their lifetime … They are sure to appear trust-worthy, so parents are also being groomed. We need to teach them how they groom them and things to look out for. Also, we don’t want people so hyper vigilant they don’t trust anyone- it’s a healthy balance,” Stover said.

Stover, who herself is a survivor of child sexual abuse, says the discussion at the event is extremely important and should be a top priority of the community.

“It is not just an incident to a child,” she said. “It’s an imprint on their mind, body and soul.”

All adults who work with, care for or interact with children are encouraged to attend, Stover said.

“As adults we are so concerned with our discomfort with the subject, we forget there is a child’s life hanging in the balance and if we don’t respond appropriately or at all,” she said.

Stover emphasized the event is just for adults because of the nature of the topic.

“Teaching about sexual abuse has to be age and maturity appropriate,” Stover said. “This particular conversation needs to be an adult conversation where we put it all out there without frightening children.”

Reported incidents of child sexual abuse have increased 31 percent in Kershaw County during the last year, Stover said.
“It’s a problem here,” she said.  “The cases we see on the national news don’t just happen in other places. It happens right here.”

Stover believes more victims are coming forward because they feel empowered to do so.

“People are being educated more, victims are speaking out more,” she said. “Now we are making it safer for people to make disclosures and know how to properly handle disclosures. How you respond to a child who discloses to you will make a world of difference.”

Stover said she knows firsthand the importance of adults responding swiftly and correctly after a disclosure.

“I was asked questions about the specifics (of my sexual assault) but there was never any follow up or investigation. He never denied abusing me but I was just left to figure it out and heal on my own,” Stover said.

The FRC provides forensic services for suspected abuse victims, counseling for the victim and non-offending family members and support groups, she said.

“We would love to see as many caring adults as possible show up. It really does take the entire community to protect our children,” Stover said.

For more information call (803) 425-4357.

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