Officials from across Bucks County held a news conference on Wednesday to announce an initiative directed towards adults in the community on how to prevent children from being sexually abused, recognizing signs of ongoing sexual abuse, and how to respond appropriately to a child who discloses abuse. The new pilot program is entitled “Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children.”
The news conference took place at the Administration Building in Doylestown and was attended by Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub, the Bucks County Commissioners, the Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA), and the Bucks County Department of Human and Housing Services.
NOVA is bringing the Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children training to communities across Bucks County by working with schools, social groups like Exchange Clubs and Bikers Against Child Abuse, day care facilities, community organizations, faith-based organizations, and local businesses to ensure that parents, grandparents, extended family members, and other adult community members know how to keep our children safe.
“The reality is we need this ‘darkness into light’ program because we have to educate people and make sure they know these things do happen in the real world whether we like it or not. Whether we keep our eyes opened or closed, they are occurring,” Weintraub said, according to KYW Newsradio 1060.
Stepping up to the microphones, Lyndlee Dull spoke up to support the program. Dull was a victim of former Falls Township resident William Thomas, who will serve the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of sexual molestation and creating and obtaining thousands of items related to child sexual abuse over a number of years.
NOVA Executive Director Penny Ettinger said that these crimes happen across the county and no matter whether someone is rich or poor.
The goal is to train 5 percent or 25,000 adults who live, work or worship in Bucks County by the end of 2020, Ettinger said.
NOVA officials said that Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children statistics show that when 5 percent of the adult population in a community take part in the in-person training program, the rate of child sexual abuse decreases over time.
The idea behind the learning program is to effect a community behavior change and empower adults to aid in preventing child sexual abuse.