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Estacada schools train staff to spot child abuse

The Estacada School District is training every teacher and support staff member in the district on how to potentially spot child sexual abuse to help protect the community’s children.

“We know that child abuse takes place in every community and often goes unreported because adults just don’t have the information they need to reduce opportunities for abuse and how to recognize and respond to it,” said Marla Stephenson, Estacada School District superintendent, in a statement.

To achieve its goals, the district is working with Children’s Center, a Clackamas County child abuse intervention facility. Teachers and staff are taking a workshop called “Stewards of Children.” The three-hour training explains how to identify child sexual abuse, steps that can be taken to protect children and how to respond responsibly if a child reports abuse.

“We made a commitment as a district to provide this education to our teachers and support staff, and we hope to be able to offer this training to all other staff and to parents as well,” Stephenson said.

Most of the high school, middle school and elementary school’s teachers and support staff have completed the training, and an additional training session is scheduled for early June. Eventually, about 150 Estacada teachers and support staff will be trained.

“Stewards of Children is a national curriculum, based on research, and it has been shown to change behaviors,” Stephenson said. “We want to ensure that the adults who work with our children are aware of the dynamics of child sexual abuse and are in a position to respond proactively.”

The results have been good, the district said. Before the training, 32 percent of employees said they had made sure that child supervision was observable, meaning that a child and adult working together could always be easily seen by other adults. After the training, 94 percent said they would ensure that child supervision was observable in the future.

In June 2015, Oregon became the 24th state to pass legislation known as Erin’s Law, which requires school districts to provide child sexual abuse prevention training to administrators, teachers, staff and parents.

The goal of Children’s Center is to train five percent of the adults in Clackamas County with the workshops. The Center said that represents the “tipping point,” where the hidden issue of child abuse will be discussed more openly, where parents will ask new questions of people and organizations that supervise their children, and where potential child abusers will know that a critical number of adults know how to recognize situations where children are vulnerable.

The workshop cost $20 and can be held at Children’s Center or at a host’s location.

More information is available at childrenscenter.cc.