They’re taking a bold stand against child sexual abuse.
The Darkness to Light program, along with Twin Cedars, and the United Way of West Georgia is focusing on the faith based community in hopes they’ll join them in the fight.
“It happens in all youth serving organizations, which means it could happen in our churches,” explained Mckenzie Jackson. “We don’t want to be blind to it.”
Jackson is coordinator for the Darkness to Light program that raises awareness and trains people for the signs of child sexual abuse. They operate within Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services. Since January, they’ve trained more than 1,000 people within Troup County, including bus drivers and paraprofessionals within the Troup CountySchool System. Now Jackson is reaching out to the churches with a special lunch and learn called “Prevent Now.”
“You have to have guidelines and policies in place for those who watch our youth,” said Jackson. “If you don’t have those in place, you just increase the risk for the children to be abused.”
“If you have guidelines in place, a perpetrator is going to want to break them,” she added. “And if they see it’s hard for them to get one on one with a child, they’re not going to want to come back. It’s the adults job to stand up for children.”
According to Jackson, one in 10 children will be sexually abused by the time they’re 18. She said the abuse can happen anywhere including in church related events like vacation Bible school or Sunday school classes. And while many people think those who attend church have good intentions, Jackson said think again.
“It could be anyone … it could be a parent,” she explained. “They’re just like you and I. They’re smart, educated, the “go to” person, and well liked. You’re not going to be able to distinguish them. The perpetrator is not going to be in a black trench coat. Children are abused by people they know and trust, which means you may know and trust them as well. “
Jackson said the purpose of the Prevent Now program isn’t to scare anyone, but rather to educate and train folks within the faith based community. They’ll have a powerful presentation on child sexual abuse and discuss the economic and emotional impact it has on the community.
The Prevent Now lunch and learn will be Sept. 18th at 200 Main Street, Suite D. For more information and to RSVP call Mckenzie Jackson at 706-594-0290 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.