Bermuda CableVision this morning [July 11] awarded Debi Ray-Rivers with the latest Bermuda CableVision Community Service Award for successfully campaigning to launch SCARS [Saving Children And Revealing Secrets],
Bermuda’s first charity specifically aimed at tackling child sexual abuse, and the positive effects that the charity has since achieved. As part of the award, SCARS received a $1,000 donation from Bermuda CableVision in support of its ongoing operations.
Mrs Ray-Rivers was presented with the award at a ceremony held at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. The event was attended by Minister of Community and Cultural Development, Wayne Scott; Bermuda CableVision’s senior management team; along with Mrs Ray-Rivers’ colleagues, family and friends.
Mrs Ray-Rivers founded SCARS to create greater awareness of and reduce the risk of child sexual abuse. Its mission is to be an advocate and voice for children who have been sexually molested, as well as their affected family and the community.
Through its main “Darkness to Light Stewards of Children” monthly training programme, SCARS has certified close to 500 individuals to prevent, recognise and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. The training programme increases participants’ awareness of the prevalence, consequences, and circumstances of child sexual abuse, while building new skills in how to address occurrences and promote the healing process, as well as encouraging commitment to action and facilitating positive change to organisational policies and procedures.
SCARS has taken its 30-minute introductory “Darkness to Light Prevent Now” presentation into a wide range of organisations, such as Bermuda College, King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Bermuda Bar Association, First Baptist Church, Department of Youth & Sports and Colonial Insurance as part of its awareness raising work.
In addition, the charity has reached a number of Parent Teacher Associations with its “SCARS Arms Families through Education” [SAFE] programme, which provides parents with the tools to teach children to protect themselves from would-be sexual predators. SCARS has also approached the Attorney General regarding the introduction of legislation that makes it mandatory for organisations entrusted with children to have some form of child sexual abuse training certification.
Mrs Ray-Rivers says: “There are three generations of sexual abuse in my family and I am both a victim and a witness of the devastation that so-called trusted adults can cause through molestation. Rather than be overwhelmed by anger and sadness, I chose to channel my energies into achieving something positive as a result of these experiences. I saw a desperate need in Bermuda for a charity to address this issue as talking about sex in relation to children is difficult, but where there is taboo and shame there is protection for the sexual abusers of children.
“In launching SCARS I wanted to create a platform for people to become more informed about child sexual abuse and to get the issue more openly talked about. The tipping point for bringing a social issue to public consciousness is often judged to be when you have talked directly to five per cent of the population. In a relatively short space of time, we have reached approximately 25 per cent of this target so I’m encouraged by our progress to date, but I know there is more to do. I would like to thank Bermuda CableVision for recognising my work with this award today. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the corporate sponsors that have helped us to get this far, namely the Argus Group, Hiscox Bermuda, Logic Communications, Renaissance Re, as well as Catlin End-to-End Bermuda that selected SCARS as a beneficiary charity in 2013. And we certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without the insight, leadership and hard work of my fellow Executive Director, Jon Brunson.”
CableVision CEO Terry Roberson, Debi Ray-Rivers, and Minister Wayne Scott:
Minister of Community and Cultural Development, R. Wayne Scott said: “In launching SCARS, Debi has created an important means of protecting the children we know and love in the community. The purpose is not to demonize but the existence of SCARS lets the potential and active perpetrators of sexual crimes against our children know they are on watch and less likely to go undetected.”
Terry Roberson, General Manager of Bermuda CableVision, comments: “We generally teach our children to trust adults but, sadly, that cannot be a universal instruction while child sexual abuse exists. With SCARS, Debi is providing an invaluable service to all adults in Bermuda, not only parents, by equipping them with the knowledge to be able to make it more difficult for child sexual abuse to take place, recognise when it does occur and help heal those who are affected. We owe it to our children to keep them safe to the best of our abilities and Debi’s important work puts the tools to do so in our hands.”
The training delivered by SCARS is largely based on materials developed by Darkness To Light, an organisation based in Charleston, South Carolina, excluding the SAFE programme which was developed in-house by SCARS.
A new, more powerful, version of the Stewards of Children material will be launched in September and introduced into Bermuda by SCARS, which will incorporate updated statistics and greater cultural diversity. It features new survivor stories to capture the effect of child sexual abuse in its many forms. It also features tips from youth organisations providing specific actions that other organisations can take to protect children. There is also more specific advice for parents on talking to their children and content about what bystanders can do to intervene and better protect children.