CPS sexual abuse training

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COLUMBIA - Parents learned how to minimize risk, recognize warning signs and address suspected sexual abuse at a sexual abuse prevention training Wednesday night.

The training comes the same day Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than 150 women and girls. 

The former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor had pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan and admitted to assaulting and molesting girls who believed they were getting medical treatment.

The training presentation, called Stewards of Children, was hosted by national not-for-profit, Darkness to Light. The program is dedicated to ending child sexual abuse. 

"This training is for all adults in the community, because adults are responsible for the safety of every child," said Kelly Schultz, the state's child advocate.

Schultz said reducing one-on-one isolated situations is a good strategy.

For example, she said, if a Sunday school teacher at church only has one child show up for class, they should move to join the class next door.

"It doesn't matter that you know me, that we're at church, that I have a fancy title," she said. "It has to do with every situation and every child, every time."

She said even if you know the adult, you should never leave your child alone. 

Schultz said adults who suspect abuse must take the risk and report it. There is a chance of being wrong, but she said there is always a chance of being right. 

She said every child, no matter the age, should have proper first aid and emergency training, and know their adult contacts if being left at home alone. 

The coordinator for Elementary School Counseling, Susan Perkins, said CPS has an abuse prevention program delivered yearly to students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

"To help them have the tools to be able to protect themselves in situations where they might feel unsafe, or incidences where there might be unwanted touching," Perkins said. 

She said the curriculum has helped some students feel comfortable coming forward and telling an adult they have been uncomfortably touched.

She said if abuse is suspected, then a staff member would hotline the situation to have it further investigated to protect the child.

Perkins said there are conversations parents can have with their children to help prevent abuse. 

"Having open and honest conversations about how children can protect themselves, helping them to understand that it's not their fault," she said. 

Perkins said, when it comes to uncomfortable touching, children need to trust their gut feeling.

"It's very important if a child does disclose to take it seriously, thank them for coming forward, reassure them that they did the right thing," Perkins said.

A presentation to show parents the sexual assault prevention curriculum taught throughout the district will be held from 6:30 - 8 p.m. on Feb. 1 at the Aslin Administration Building. 

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