One in 10: Teachers taught signs of child sexual abuse



BY SARAH ELMS | September 3, 2015

TRAVERSE CITY — Nearly 600 Traverse City Area Public Schools employees will go through a new safety training before classes resume next week — one that focuses on keeping children safe outside of the classroom.

The Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center through a grant from the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation is providing free training throughout the community on how adults can identify and respond to child sexual abuse.
“What we want everyone to walk away with is more knowledge and more tools to make sure that when we’re interacting with children we’re doing everything we can to really listen to them and keep them safe,” the center’s Prevention Coordinator Hannah Rodriguez said.

Suttons Bay Public Schools held a training on Sunday, and TCAPS’ training kicked off on Tuesday. It’s the first time local districts participated in the sessions on such a large scale, Rodriguez said.

“We used to talk about stranger danger, and we found out in the training that in over 90 percent of child sexual abuse cases the abuser is someone the child knows and trusts,” Superintendent Paul Soma said. “It’s real important stuff. It’s part of our safety and security measures.”

Traverse City High School Principal Lance Morgan sits on the center’s board of directors. He said the training gives educators the tools they need to address abuse, but it also spurs conversation around a startling statistic: One in 10 children is sexually abused before they turn 18.

“The more that we can make people aware of the situation, I think the safer everybody is going to be,” he said.

Morgan hopes the training is the first of more to come both within TCAPS and at other districts in the region.

“I think it’s certainly important to get the certified staff trained, but it’s equally important to get our bus drivers, our custodians, our secretaries and our administrative staff trained,” he said. “It’s absolutely my hope that other districts and the ISD take a look at this for their staff.”

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