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This fall Beech Brook will launch two new programs to strengthen and support parents and to prevent child sexual abuse.

The Beech Brook Family Center will begin hosting “Parent Cafés,” nationally recognized, evidence-based, parent-led support groups that help parents connect to discuss the challenges and victories that come with raising a family.

Funded by Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, the Parent Cafés provide a safe space for parents to learn and share experiences with their peers. They engage in self-reflection and peer-to-peer learning and create strategies from their own wisdom that will help them strengthen their families.

Terri Davis, Beech Brook’s senior director of prevention and early intervention programs, manages the Parenting programs based in the Beech Brook Family Center. She’s looking forward to the opportunity this will provide for parents to interact with others facing similar issues. “We’re hoping that the parents who attend the Parent Cafés will walk away with a new friend, a drive to be more active in their community and the motivation improve their own family dynamic,” Davis says.

Groups of approximately 10-12 parents meet for 90 minutes, once a week for three straight weeks. Participants will come together, enjoy a meal and discuss whatever topics are on their minds. The sessions are led by a host parent, who is a formally trained parent volunteer, with Beech Brook staff available as support when needed. Because the groups are led by one of their peers, the topics are chosen based on the group’s interest, so no two Parent Cafés are the same.

“What I like best about the Parent Cafés is that they allow parents to empower other parents to be the parent – and the person they want to be,” Davis reports.

Beech Brook will be hosting four Parent Cafés throughout the next year. Two will be held at the Beech Brook Family Center, one will be at Patrick Henry School, and the last in a location still to be determined.

Stewards of Children

Another new service Beech Brook has recently begun providing is “Stewards of Children.” Also funded by Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, Stewards of Children educates adults on the prevalence of child sexual abuse and gives them steps to prevent that abuse.

Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is more common than many people think: experts estimate that 1 in 10 children are sexually abused before they turn 18. And most of the time, the abuser is not a stranger, but someone who knows the child well.

Nicole Borowy-Salamon, Beech Brook’s program manager of the Comprehensive Sex Education program and the leader of these trainings says, “It’s critical that parents, educators and anyone who has contact with children understand that ‘stranger danger’ is not where the real fear should be: children are much more likely to be abused by someone who is close to them and who has the opportunity to get them alone.”

The Stewards of Children training includes videos of survivors telling their stories of abuse. The participants in the training will be warned ahead of time in case they may be triggered by the videos. The 5 steps outlined in the training include:

  • Learn the facts. If we don’t understand child sexual abuse, we can’t end it.
  • Minimize the opportunity. Safe environments can help reduce the risk for abuse.
  • Talk about it. Talking openly breaks down barriers and reduces stigma.
  • Recognize the signs. Signs of abuse aren’t always obvious, but they are often there.
  • React responsibly. It’s our responsibility to react appropriately to suspicion, disclosure or discovery of abuse.

Beech Brook staff will be providing this two-hour training to childcare professionals, and foster parents.

Stewards of Children is a training created by Darkness to Light, an organization that aims to end child sexual abuse. Darkness to Light has partnered with Champion gymnast Aly Raisman in a 3-hour documentary airing Friday, September 24, at 8 p.m. of Lifetime. The program, entitled Aly Raisman: Darkness to Light, tells the story of healing from child sexual abuse from a survivors’ perspective. In this special, Raisman meets with people who have suffered abuse as children and discusses their triggers and the impact the abuse has had on their lives.

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