âWhen I was little and saw scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for helpers. You will always find people who help.'”
And if you are looking for helpers, as Mr. Rogers’ mother suggested above, you will find them, often struggling to fund their programs.
Helpers are all over our communities doing critically important work and sometimes they do their job silently and without the general public noticing. “We don’t want to give ideas to potential child molesters,” said Rebecca LeBeau, executive director of the Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) program in northern Nevada.
CAP was founded in 1984 as a non-profit organization whose mission is to conduct child abuse prevention workshops in schools in northern Nevada. LeBeau has been CEO of CAP since 2000.
Nevada law (NRS 389.031) requires the Department of Education, “in consultation with individuals and organizations who have knowledge and expertise in teaching children’s personal safety,” to develop.[a]age-appropriate, best-practice curriculum standards for teaching children’s personal safety to students in Kindergarten and Grades 1 to 12 inclusive. will ensure that the teaching of children’s personal safety. . . be implemented as part of a health study program. . . “
The SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented impact on the lives of children, their families and private and public education systems. A wide range of stressors have resulted in loss of social control, such as: school closures and quarantines, distance learning, job insecurity of parents, anxiety of school members family, depression and substance abuse, family members and caregivers falling ill with COVID, as well as racial and political unrest.
According to numerous reports, domestic violence calls to law enforcement agencies have sometimes increased by as much as 10% in the past 18 months.
âCAP’s interactive workshops engage students in discussions, role-plays, demonstrations and tackle bullying, the dangers of strangers in the home and on the streets, sex trafficking as well as internet and online predators. social media, âLeBeau said. “Children also learn to recognize and avoid dangerous and secretive contacts.”
Last yearâ â , despite numerous disruptions caused by the pandemic and school closures, forcing the CAP to build a ‘live learning’ internet steam studio to provide its workshops for the learning programs at distance, said LeBeau, âCAP delivered 425 workshops and taught 6,984 rural and urban students how to protect themselves from child abuse and assault. As a result of these workshops, we enabled more than 460 children to get help with their personal situation. “
According to the National Children’s Alliance’s 2020 annual report, there are 924 children’s advocacy centers in the United States that have provided 338,475 children with help with their personal circumstances. That is to say an average of 366 children helped per advocacy center. However, in northern Nevada, CAP has helped 460 children, or 26% more children, with its programs during the pandemic than the national average!
In a typical school year, CAP runs ânearly 600 workshops, teaching around 14,000 children how to protect themselves from assault and abuse. Since its inception, CAP has delivered abuse prevention workshops to more than 360,000 children and adults in northern Nevada, according to CAP’s latest annual report.
CAP funding has traditionally come from various sources such as charitable foundations that promote child safety as well as the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. Due to the new and worsened disruption caused by the pandemic, competition for scarce funds for essential social programs is now fierce.
Alarmingly, therefore, CAP is currently facing a last-ditch effort to keep its precious rescue workshops alive by raising desperately needed funds through public awareness.
The loss of the free CAP workshops in northern Nevada schools will shift Nevada law compliance work to “ensure that children’s personal safety education … is implemented” on already overwhelmed school counselors. This will mean a dramatic decrease in child abuse prevention workshops and post-workshop services to deal with individual children’s cases as well as follow-up reports to monitor what children have learned from their short training.
Maybe you are a parent who remembers a CAP workshop while you were in school?
CAP has been a Mister Rogers-style “helper” who has kept children “safe, strong, and free” in northern Nevada for 37 years, but sometimes even helpers need help.
Will you be of help?
Bob Tregilus (@BobTregilus) is a retired civil rights and energy policy community organizer and journalist living in Reno. He currently practices fine art photography and is a part-time art framer at Nevada Fine Arts. He also occasionally contributes photojournalism for the Sierra Nevada Ally.