The Capital District YMCA will help train area residents on how to spot and respond to child sexual abuse.
YMCA officials announced Monday a partnership with the national child abuse prevention organization Darkness to Light to offer the programs to area residents through classes and workshops.
At an event announcing the program Monday, Capital District YMCA executive David Brown listed a series of alarming statistics on child sexual abuse, including that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday and that it is suspected that two-thirds of abuse goes unreported and unidentified.
“Our goal is to educate and train and make people aware of sexual child abuse in the Capital Region,” Brown said at the Monday announcement, held at the Albany branch of the Capital District YMCA on North Pearl Street. “We have a goal to train 5 percent of the community here over the next five years so they’re aware of the staggering statistics and what to do about it.”
The YMCA has already worked to train its own employees and staff, amounting to more than 900 people.
Now they’re turning to the community, through community groups, local churches and YMCA members, hoping to spread the word about the signs to look for.
Training sessions, which are about 21⁄2 to three hours long, are to be held at local YMCAs. Sessions can also be scheduled out in the community through organizations.
The course includes seven steps to protect children, according to a workbook, including how to minimize the opportunities for abuse by eliminating or reducing one-on-one situations and acting on suspicions by contacting child abuse help lines or taking other steps.
Monday’s announcement also coincided with National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Attending the announcement were several local dignitaries, including Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, Albany County District Attorney David Soares and Albany City Schools Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard.
Tedisco praised the effort as one that does exactly what it’s supposed to.
“It empowers groups that interact with our children on the proper ways to identify this abuse and also to inform children how best to protect themselves in a good way, in a way that doesn’t scare them,” Tedisco said.
Soares invited anyone who could to sign up and take the class, “because you could be the person saving a child’s life.”
Any individual or organization who wants to sign up for the class can contact the YMCA’s Rayette Johnson at 869-3500, ext. 9907.