Local program aims at driving out darkness and bringing in light

Local program shines light on child sexual abuse prevention in our area

It is a topic that many are uncomfortable discussing, but it is also a national problem that needs to be recognized.

"One in ten children, before the age of eighteen, are sexually abused, and that's a pretty uncomfortable statistic," says Sherrie Schweder. "But it just goes to show how prevalent it is and why it's important for people to know about it and to prevent it."

Because of this startling statistic, a national non-profit organization called Darkness to Light formed, and it helps to teach adults how to prevent child sexual abuse.

They utilize a program called "Stewards of Children" to train adults on signs and steps for taking action.

"We teach adults about child sexual abuse and how to prevent, how to recognize it, and how to react responsibly," says Schweder.

A major theme of this initiative is to create a trustworthy environment where both adults and children can openly discuss any situation.

Schweder is a forensic interviewer at the Mercy Child Advocacy Center, and has big goals for spreading awareness.

"One of the places we would love to go into is schools because they have kids nine months out of the year almost every single day," says Schweder. "So they are really on the front lines with seeing the majority of kids in the Siouxland area."

Schweder mentions it is important for adults to be open to discussion and awareness, as it is a bigger problem than one may realize.

"If we are adults are not comfortable talking about it, children are unlikely to be comfortable talking about it as well," says Schweder.

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