Shedding light from Times Square to Thomasville - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Program brings topic of sex abuse to classrooms

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) -

Experts say 90% of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser and 60% are abused by a relative or trusted family friend.

School leaders in Thomasville city schools are working to protect kids from the horror of abuse.

The Thomasville school system is working to prevent child abuse. They've got everyone from teachers to custodians on board.

"It hit home more because nothing is more precious to you, than having your own child, you think about that child and you think about that child's safety 24 hours a day," said parent and educator Ashley Martin.

The chances of a child dying in a car wreck are 1 in 84, but experts say the chances of a child being sexually abused are 1 in 4 for girls and 1 in 6 for boys.

MacIntyre Park Middle School teacher and new mother Ashley Martin says the mandatory sexual abuse awareness courses changed her entire outlook on the world.

"It opens your eyes to the different things that are out there, things that you should be thinking about, that you kind of don't think about especially with girls, but not just girls, boys too," said Martin.

That's exactly why Tiffany Oldham and Stephanie Hardy got certified and felt compelled to bring the information from the Stewards of Children, Darkness to Light training session to the entire system.

"A lot of times that kindergarten teacher, or that middle school teacher is not only a teacher but a confidant, we are often the first line of defense," said Oldham.

They say parents must get involved with the initiative. "In the past it has been a hush-hush conversation, not talked about or they've more believed in the stranger danger," said Hardy.

Bringing the topic to light is transforming classrooms into safe havens and faculty members into beacons of light, protecting the innocence of all students who walk through school doors.

Copyright 2014 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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