COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Organizations are coming together to tackle child abuse in the community by hosting free training to help prevent child sex abuse.
Every month, Stewards of Children hosts meetings called Darkness to Light, where parents, law enforcement, and organizations who work with children can get free training and become certified.
Shelly Hall is the director of victim services with the Muscogee County District Attorney’s Office and conducts the classes to educate the public on what to be on the lookout for to protect children.
“Every adult would benefit from this training, and then of course, you can take it to your work. You want to make sure you are protecting anyone you serve, but most importantly, I really wish I would have had this training when I raised by children. It just teaches you so many valuable things about how we have to take the responsibility," said Hall.
Hall said 90 percent of abusers are someone you would consider being close to and trust like a family member.
She said parents need to put their children in situations with other adults that could be observable and interruptible.
“Like coaching or tutoring, there is going to be times where a child and an adult will be one on one, but you do it out in the open. If they are going to come and tutor at my house, they’re going to do the tutoring at the kitchen table when I’m in the area,” said Hall.
Organizations like Micah’s Promise were in attendance who are human sex trafficking advocates.
Executive Director Bobbie Starr said studies show 35 percent of children who are sexually abused are under the age of 11.
“They are vulnerable at a younger age because they don’t understand what’s going on and they don’t know who to tell about what’s going on. But, all children are vulnerable and what they also learned today is it’s not only adults that abuse. So older children abuse children as well and it’s not only men abusing female children. It’s male on male. Women can be abusers as well,” said Starr.
Starr said unfortunately, often times it’s not until children become adults when they realize it’s ok to talk about being abused.
Everyone who completes the free training class will leave with a certificate to show they will be certified for the next three years.
For more information on how you can help prevent child sexual assault, click here.