Meridian Twp. residents train on how to spot, prevent child sex abuse

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MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLNS) — Residents in Meridian Township trained on how to spot and prevent child sexual abuse Wednesday evening.

The training, facilitated by Darkness to Light, comes after Brianne Randall-Gay reported she was abused by Larry Nassar in 2004, but the case was never forwarded to prosecutors. The township apologized to Randall-Gay in 2018 for mishandling the case.

Since then, Randall-Gay has been working with the township to help improve how officials respond to cases of sexual abuse involving children.

“This is one of the trainings and one of the components that the group she spearheaded came up with,” Township Police Chief Ken Plaga said.

Statistics compiled by Darkness to Light show:

  • Approximately 1 in 10 children are sexually abused before they turn 18-years-old.
  • 90 percent of children who are victims of sexual abuse were abused by someone they know.
  • 60 percent of children who are victims of sexual abuse were abused by someone their family trusts.

“I think it’s always surprising when you hear about the statistics, and how common things like this actually are,” Stacy Bailey, Okemos Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, said.

People who attended the training also learned about signs that could mean a child is being sexually abused. According to Darkness to Light, those signs include:

  • Depression/anxiety
  • Unexplained anger/rebellious behavior
  • Nightmares
  • Sexual behavior/language that are not appropriate for the child’s age

With summer coming to an end, Plaga said the training taking place in August is not a coincidence.

“We timed this before the school year starts so that people are prepared, and it’s fresh in their mind when the kids go back to school so they can find those indicators, or provide proper responses,” he said.

Bailey, a mother of two, said she felt it was important for her to take the training, as both a school official and a mother. She also believes everyone should take the class so they know how to spot red flags.

“I think it’s important for me to have a better awareness and understanding to help support the adults in the organization, as well as the children and families,” Bailey said. “I would recommend anybody come out. It’s two hours, but very informative.

Online:

Darkness to Light child sexual abuse prevention

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