March 29, 2021
Barancik Supports Personal Safety & Community Awareness – Child Protection Center Strengthens Personal Safety and Community Awareness Program as Rise in Abuse Cases Grows
During the beginning of the pandemic, local agencies saw a significant decline in child abuse reports, but the trend was deceiving. Experts knew that while reports were low, cases were increasingly happening behind closed doors. The reality was that children were isolated from individuals who are generally the first line of defense for reporting abuse, like teachers, sports coaches, and personnel of afterschool programs.
Over the last year as students have returned to classrooms and extracurricular activities, Child Protection Center has increased its efforts in training children and educators on the signs and symptoms of child abuse. The Personal Safety and Community Awareness (PSCA) program is designed to create a safety net surrounding children, where caregivers, educators, faith leaders, and other organization employees receive free training on identifying and reporting signs of abuse.
“Although the PSCA program was greatly impacted with the shutdown of schools, we transitioned very quickly to a digital format,” says Doug Staley, Executive Director of Child Protection Center. “After returning to in-person sessions, we ramped up our efforts to properly equip first responders with the tools needed to identify what’s happening to children at home.”
With only 2.5 months of in-person workshops conducted in 2020, PSCA was able to reach 55,315 people in Sarasota County and beyond with a complete digital adaptation of the program.
The efforts have been fueled by support from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, which granted the organization $300,000 to bolster its efforts in responding to child abuse. The PSCA program also includes developmentally appropriate personal safety workshops for children that cover topics including sexual abuse prevention, anti-bullying, internet safety, abduction prevention, and self-esteem and empathy training.