In a first for the island, a team from the charity Scars Bermuda today heads overseas to deliver the group’s sexual abuse prevention training to another jurisdiction.
Scars chairman Jon Brunson is to deliver the course with Debi Ray-Rivers, executive director, to 120 people selected by the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“It shows how we have changed the landscape in Bermuda — you would never have heard of this five years ago,” Mr Brunson told The Royal Gazette.
“Normally we think of bringing someone to Bermuda to train us. Now we’re being asked to take our deliverable and export it.”
As of this week, the island had 5,056 people trained in the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children abuse prevention programme, representing more than 10 per cent of the adult population. Scars Bermuda was officially approved in October 2011, with the aim of spreading the programme to other countries, Ms Ray-Rivers said.
“It’s created a tipping point, whereby child protection has become the expectation and the norm, with survivors coming forward and gaining community support.
“We held a training session on Saturday and many of the people who came were mandated to get certified, even though it isn’t legislated.
“That’s the impact that the training is having. Even if the law does not require it, organisations are doing it anyway,”
The two-day Turks and Caicos courses will cover officials ranging from ministers and permanent secretaries to police, youth leaders, educators and church pastors.
The sessions have been long in the making, starting in March 2016 when Bermuda hosted a meeting of governors from five British Overseas Territories.
George Fergusson, the former governor, had obtained his own certification from Scars, which caught the attention of Jill Beckingham, wife of Peter Beckingham — then the governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Mrs Beckingham subsequently met with Scars representatives, and invited the Scars team to visit. The training will be funded by Turks and Caicos with sponsorship from Colonial Insurance, Mr Brunson said — and with this move, the group hopes to expand its work to other jurisdictions.
“Bermuda needs to be very proud,” Ms Ray-Rivers said.
“It shows how we have embraced this movement — how our people now have a high awareness.
“Sexual abuse exists because of secrecy, and now we are revealing those secrets. People now have a safe place to talk about it.”
By Jonathan Bell The Royal Gazette