The Governor urged everyone to help eliminate child sexual abuse by taking the training programme run by Saving Children and Revealing Secrets yesterday.

John Rankin, who became certified on Tuesday, along with nine members of Government House staff, also commended the child sex abuse prevention charity for the work it does to protect children.

Mr Rankin said: “I would encourage everyone, whether they work with children on a regular basis or not, to undertake the training.

“It is the responsibility of all of us to protect Bermuda’s children and hopefully with the training provided by Scars, Bermuda can continue to move forward in eliminating child sexual abuse.”

He added: “Scars and its staff should be very proud of the work they have done to date; they have trained 12 per cent of Bermuda’s adult population, something which has not been accomplished in larger jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom or the United States.

“This figure shows the importance placed by the community as a whole on this very difficult topic.”

The Governor said he had heard much about the “essential” work done by Scars to increase the awareness of the devastation caused by child sexual abuse and to provide a voice for victims and their families.

He added: “Although Government House does not have daily interaction with children, I felt it was right and important that we undertake the Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children training to better equip ourselves in recognising and dealing with such a sensitive matter.”

Trained facilitators Debi Ray-Rivers and Glenda Edwards, delivered the three-hour programme designed to educate adults on how to recognise, prevent and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

Ms Ray-Rivers, founder and executive director of Scars, said the programme is the only prevention course in Bermuda that is scientifically proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child-protective behaviours.

She added: “We have now trained 6,096 adults in our community and we are seeing the impact this training has had in our community in the past six years. “We at Scars are truly grateful to the Governor and his wonderful team of staff for choosing to take part in this training.

“This highlights the importance that he places in protecting the children of Bermuda.”

Ms Ray-Rivers said sexual abuse can affect entire communities in terms of relationships, health costs and crime.

She added: “It is important to learn everything we can about this issue because it is preventable.”

Any adult or organisation entrusted with a child or interested in the subject is encouraged to take the programme, become certified and put into practice what they learn. Ms Ray-Rivers added: “Although there is a cost to Scars, we will continue to raise funds so that no adult has to pay to learn how to protect children from sexual abuse.

“We are grateful to all of the foundations, corporations, and individual donors who believe in our mission and continue to support our cause.”

By Lisa Simpson The Royal Gazette