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New Program Helps Protect Kids from Sexual Abuse

SEATTLE, Dec. 11, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Every adult in a child's life has the responsibility to make sure they wear a seatbelt and avoid playing with matches and guns. And that responsibility extends to keeping children safe from sexual abuse—but that's often not an easy task. Teachers, parents, and program leaders may feel awkward talking about it and may not even know where to start.

But Committee for Children's new Second Step Child Protection Unit gives them research-based tools they need to start these critical conversations. The newly released unit provides staff training, parent materials, and student lessons that can be used in any educational setting. The online staff training helps school administrators develop a comprehensive child protection plan and prepares all school staff to recognize indicators of abuse and neglect, identify staff violations of child protection policies, respond to a child who discloses abuse, and teach personal safety skills to students.

Dr. David Finkelhor, Director of the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center, consulted on the Child Protection Unit's creation. Finkelhor says training school staff is vitally important to children's safety because "Teachers know the most about children besides members of their own family. They're the ones who are most likely to report when a report is necessary. And they're among the professionals that children are most likely to disclose abuse to when they really need help. So, teachers are really crucial when it comes to helping kids out who are being victimized."

The student lessons teach kids to recognize, refuse, and report unsafe or abusive situations. Family letters, interactive homework, and videos help parents address the potentially awkward subject of sexual abuse prevention with their children.

For 35 years, Committee for Children has been creating research-based programs that enhance children's social-emotional learning and help them stay safe. "Although it is very important to teach children personal safety skills, adults are ultimately responsible for keeping kids safe and protected. This is backed up by research from the field," says Joan Cole Duffell, Executive Director. "The cutting-edge online training combined with the robust family materials make it possible for all the major players in a child's life to keep them safe."

The current statistics can feel daunting: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18. But the Second Step Child Protection Unit gives educators, families, and children the knowledge they need to truly make a difference.

About Committee for Children

Seattle-based nonprofit Committee for Children's research-based educational programs, including the award-winning Second Step program, teach social-emotional skills to prevent bullying, violence, and abuse and improve academics. Their curricula are used in over 26,000 schools across the United States and around the world. To learn more, go to www.cfchildren.org.

CONTACT: Allison Wedell Schumacher Committee for Children 206-438-6432 (o) 206-778-2537 (c) aschumacher@cfchildren.org

Source: Committee for Children