US Consulate staff have been trained in child sexual abuse prevention.

Nineteen employees took part in the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training run by charity Scars.

Mary Ellen Koenig, the US Consul, said: “I think all of us were startled by some of the statistics shared by the Scars trainers.

“On some level, we all know that abuse against children takes place regularly but when it is quantified, it is truly sobering.”

Ms Koenig said the training gave her staff materials and tools to use, as well as contact information if they know or suspect abuse.

She added: “As parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, churchgoers, coaches, we each have a responsibility to watch out for the children — who simply don’t have the experience to deal with inappropriate relationships or incidents.

“Our consulate staff, all of whom have various roles throughout the community, are better equipped to be aware and know how best to take action if needed, as a result of this training.”

Ms Koenig added other organisations should take advantage of the training, which she said was “excellent”.

She said: “The need to protect those who are more vulnerable than ourselves is not limited to the workplace.

“While the US Consulate does not regularly deal with children on a professional basis — and when we do, it is always in the company of their parents or guardians — this training is designed for everyone who lives in Bermuda.”

Debi Ray-Rivers, Scars executive director, said: “We are so grateful to the whole consulate team for providing us with the opportunity and for taking part in the training. Even if you are an organisation that is not entrusted with the care of children on a daily basis, it is still important to be able to prevent, recognise and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.”

Ms Ray-Rivers, who led last week’s training, added: “This is a great example of leading from the front. Scars is grateful beyond words to the US Consul for training her staff.”

By Lisa Simpson The Royal Gazette