The Center has presented Safe Touch to kids in our community for over 30 years. These violence prevention education programs use evidence-based best practices in age-appropriate lessons to promote safety and reduce child sexual abuse. The curriculum is continually reviewed and updated with teacher and parent input.
Child sexual abuse (CSA) is unfortunately much more common than many people realize. Darkness to Light (D2L), a national organization to end child abuse, estimates that about 1 in 10 children experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. Even more children experience non-contact sexual abuse. Only about a third of kids tell someone when they experience abuse. CSA occurs across all demographic groups and can have long-lasting negative impacts such as physical and mental health problems, emotional and behavioral issues, and poor academic performance.
Though the problem of CSA looms large, the Center has a successful prevention program on multiple counts. First, by sheer numbers, we are very successful in getting these crucial public safety messages out to the county. We present SafeTouch programs in every classroom of every elementary school in both local school districts. Overall, we reached 14,805 youth and adults in 865 education programs during the 2013-2014 school year.
The Center is an official “Partner in Prevention,” a nationally-recognized public standard to end child sexual abuse (CSA). The designation was awarded for our commitment to protecting children by training 100% of our staff on how to prevent, recognize the signs, and react responsibly to CSA.
The “Partner in Prevention” designation was created as a national standard to help parents and caregivers recognize organizations who take CSA prevention seriously by training staff and implementing effective prevention policies. The training and designation award is provided by Darkness to Light. D2L has championed the movement to end CSA since its founding in 2000 and now has education programs in 49 states and 15 foreign countries.
Rachel Valentine, the Center’s Rape Prevention Educator Coordinator, is a trained facilitator for D2L’s Stewards of Children program. In addition to training our own staff, she provides prevention education for adults across the Orange County community. The Stewards of Children program is especially designed for parents and caregivers of children. In the 2012-2013 academic year, Rachel trained 141 adults in proven child abuse prevention techniques.