Glenda Edwards has always been passionate about working with children.
After a career in child protection spanning more than three decades, the mother of three now facilitates training sessions with charity Saving Children and Revealing Secrets.
Mrs Edwards, who is also one of the organisation’s directors, said: “I worked in the Department of Family Services for over 30 years and we saw the results of child abuse on a daily basis.”
While working for the Bermuda Government, she had all the staff take part in the training, but upon retiring two years ago felt that her journey was not done.
“The whole idea of prevention was like a lightbulb; Government can’t do it all. I realised this was a huge opportunity to try and stem the tide.
“Not enough focus had been put on prevention; we were always reacting rather than stopping it in the first place.”
Scars works to create greater awareness of the devastation caused by child sexual abuse, to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse and to advocate for affected children and families. Through the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training programme, individuals and organisations that work with children are trained to prevent, recognise, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
“Over the two years, I’ve helped to facilitate the training for a lot of people,” Mrs Edwards, of Smith’s, told The Royal Gazette.
This includes members of the Bermuda Police Service, charities and the wider community, as well as school principals.
She also helps with the Safe [Scars Arms Families through Education] presentations at PTA meetings.
“I do it because it’s something I’m passionate about,” she said. “When you give, you receive. My reward is feeling I am able to make a difference. I think how lucky it is I’ve been able to do this.”
Mrs Edwards said it is “amazing” and “phenomenal” that more than 4,200 people have been trained by Scars since the charity was founded by executive director Debi Ray-Rivers in 2011.
“Through my facilitating, I’ve just realised how little I knew. I was shocked by the information that came out of the training. It’s now in your face how big a secret its been.
“Through Debi’s amazing passion and motivation, people now feel safe to come forward and speak out and work to put things in place to really protect children,” she added.
“It’s not Government’s responsibility to solve all these problems; it’s a community partnership as well. We all need to take responsibility. Raising awareness has been a big part of that.”
She said a child advocacy centre — Scars’ long-term goal — is one missing link that would require a lot of agencies to collaborate.
“We can all work together to make this a better outcome for children and the community,” she added.
Mrs Edwards is also passionate about increasing the protection of child victims through updated legislation that falls in line with the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child, and improving the management of sex offenders in the community.
“My whole career was spent in child services. I had some great people I worked with but it’s tough to get things done in that organisational structure; there’s always other priorities.
“Scars focuses on children and what’s best for the families, and that’s what’s really powerful.”
With Scars, Mrs Edwards has also helped to highlight some of the issues surrounding child victims and sex offenders to the joint select committee on sex offenders.
“One of Scars’ missions is to really advocate on behalf of child victims and their families. Sometimes that is easier to do through an outside agency than when you’re on the inside.”
Mrs Edwards also volunteers with YouthNet, BIFF Kids and is the youth protection officer for Rotary in Bermuda, but she said Scars is her main priority.
She encouraged people to get involved with the charity “to try and be part of the solution, whether that’s facilitating or volunteering for some of the events such as the tag day on April 27, or making a donation to offset some of the cost of the training, which is provided free of charge”.
By Lisa Simpson The Royal Gazette