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June 21, 2014

Partnering against child abuse

GREENVILLE — Employees and volunteers with the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Texas are now more equipped to protect their children from child abuse.

The club recently became a Partner in Prevention with the child abuse prevention program Darkness to Light (D2L) where they will train 90 percent of their employees and volunteers by the end of the summer.

By the time a child reaches the age of 18, one in 10 will have been sexually abused, according to research.

County Court-at-law No. 1 Judge Andrew Bench said that statistic needs to be changed.

“It is our duty as adults to raise our awareness to protect the children of our county,” he said. “If we can prevent one child from being victimized, it is worth every penny.”

Through the D2L training programs, individuals will be equipped with tools to help spot suspicious situations involving children and be able to prevent abuse.

According to Jenny Krueger, Chief Professional Officer of the BGC of Northeast Texas, the BGC will not only train their employees, but also raise awareness of the program to organizations across the county.

“We as a community organization need to do everything in our power to ensure we are providing a safe environment that inspires all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens,” she said. “We will present this program to Boys & Girls Clubs across Texas to help spread the awareness and prevention movement across the state.”

Joshua Slinkard, director of program development at the BGC, said having a prominent politician such as Judge Bench fully support the program is encouraging.

“He is very eloquent and passionate at it,” he said. “That really sticks out to people.”

With approximately 90 percent of cases of child abuse coming from someone the child knows, child abuse is a very sensitive subject.

Slinkard said although it is a difficult subject, residents should not shy away from protecting their youths by raising awareness of a problem where more than 400 reported cases of child abuse occurred in Hunt County in 2012.

“Because of that people don’t talk about it,” he said, adding he applauds the work Hunt County Court-at-Law No. 1 Court Reporter Cher Perry has done to train him and other members of the BGC.

The BGC has already introduced the program to several of their other clubs in other counties, including ones in Rockwall, Hill and Hood counties; Slinkard has also introduced it to Authentic Life Fellowship, a church he attends, which had a training seminar in May.

Slinkard hopes the trend will continue and other organizations will join in preventing child abuse in the county.

“The goal of it is to try and get it everywhere, in all the churches, organizations and businesses in Hunt County,” he said, adding they also let parents of the children at the BGC know training is available to them as well.

Knowing what to look for and properly prevent child abuse situations is what Slinkard hopes will be accomplished through the training.

“A lot of this program is to help us understand the signs and look for the warnings,” he said. ”We will equip the staff to look for warning signs.”

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