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Summertime is now in full swing, which means local kids are involved in sports, camps and other fun outdoor activities.

But if you’re working with kids, you may not realize you have a responsibility to protect them from sexual abuse.

Child sexual abuse is a serious health problem that can happen anywhere, even in Coos County. It is our job to stop it.

According to the prevention organization Darkness to Light, one in 10 children will experience child sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. And the impact can be long-lasting. Research shows that children who are sexually violated are far more likely to experience psychological problems.

These facts are staggering. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to protect children in every community.

The Ford Family Foundation administers a nationally acclaimed training curriculum, Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children. This training is provided for free by Kids’ Hope Center at the Bay Area Hospital on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. To RSVP, contact Sarah Bright at 541-269-4196. Sarah’s team can also come to any organization in Coos County to provide the training.

The training teaches practical prevention tips. Participants learn how to minimize opportunities for abuse to occur, which is one of the most effective ways to keep children safe. For example, coaches can make sure there is always more than one adult in every sporting situation. This strategy reduces opportunities for an abuser, and helps protect coaches, too.

Adults who have taken a Stewards of Children training report feeling empowered and eager to take the steps necessary to protect children. Many are motivated to begin conversations in their schools, churches, sports organizations and families. Talking about the issue is an important first step.

Anyone who regularly interacts with kids and teens can become an excellent mentor to help guide students on productive paths forward. That’s why all coaches, mentors and youth leaders should be trained to detect and prevent child sexual abuse. And if you’re a parent with kids in summer sports or activities, check with coaches or leaders and ask if they’ve been trained.

We owe it to the children of Coos County. Let’s be a champion for them.

Brian Moore

Coos Bay

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