The Berkeley Institute has become the first high school in Bermuda to put all of its teachers through SCARS training. Completion of the ‘Stewards of Children’ workshop delivered by SCARS means that the 90 plus teachers at the school are now certified in recognising, preventing and responding appropriately to child sexual abuse.
Several teachers and support staff members from The Berkeley Institute had independently attended one of SCARS’ shorter awareness presentations – ‘SAFE’ and ‘Prevent Now’ – and recommended the training to the school’s management team. The course content, developed by experts at Darkness to Light (www.D2L.org) based in South Carolina, is highly engaging as it explores the devastating subject of child sexual abuse from many perspectives including survivors, doctors and law enforcement agencies.
Keisha Allen-Smith, director of Staff Development and Instruction at The Berkeley Institute, said in a press release: “SCARS provided The Berkeley Institute with a unique opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to our duty of care for students by learning how to prevent and address child sexual abuse. I would highly recommend this training to other schools as not only does it equip their staff with the skills to identify victims and provide support and guidance in difficult circumstances, but it also empowers them to prevent sexual abuse by changing behaviours and practices that could place children in vulnerable positions. As a direct result of the training, we are actively removing situations where a child is alone with an adult for the benefit of both the child and the adult. This measure lessens the blurring of lines and the possibility of inappropriate relationships developing.”
Jon Brunson, executive director, SCARS Bermuda, added: “We are really pleased that schools are recognising the value of our training and pursuing certification for their staff. Our ultimate goal is for child sexual abuse training to become mandatory in schools because young people spend the majority of their time at school and it should be a certified safe zone, where young people feel supported on a personal level and are protected from the horror and degradation of sexual abuse. Having all teachers within a school trained to know the signs and act responsibly is an ideal scenario as then the school becomes self-regulating, with colleagues helping each other guard the boundaries of appropriate behaviour and maintaining a culture of prevention.”
The Berkeley Institute joins the following schools on a growing list that have ensured the majority or all of their staff are trained by SCARS to become ‘Stewards of Children’ certified: Bloomfield Nursery, Little Blessing’s Nursery, Onionpatch Infant and Day Care Centre, Happy Valley Child Care Centre, St. John’s Preschool, St. Paul’s Preschool, Lyceum Preschool, Warwick Preschool, The Learning Zone, St. Georges Preparatory School, West Pembroke Primary School, The Whitney Institute, The Adult Education School and The Bermuda Institute.
Parents who do not see their child’s school listed are encouraged to suggest SCARS training to that school. Interested organisations should visit www.scarsbermuda.com for more information and then contact SCARS to arrange training to meet their needs.
SCARS holds free monthly public training sessions at The Argus Building on Wesley Street in Hamilton. The next scheduled sessions will be held from 9am until 12noon on November 23, December 7 and January 18. Pre-registration is required by emailing email@example.com.
By Don Burgess, Deputy Editor Bermuda Sun