TRENTON – All Department of Law and Public Safety employees will receive mandatory child sexual abuse identification and prevention training, Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced today. This free, online training session is available to all New Jerseyans.
“As law enforcement and as parents, we owe it to our children to expose the perpetrators who commit these hideous crimes and bring them to justice,” Hoffman said. “Law enforcement will continue to crack down on this vicious crime. Yet, it is important to remember that it is everyone’s responsibility, be it teachers, friends, relatives or neighbors, to recognize the signs of abuse and report it to the proper authorities. That is why our department will participate in this mandatory training.”
The training is provided by Darkness to Light, a nonprofit with the mission of reducing the incidence of child sexual abuse through public awareness.
“This is an unprecedented state-wide investment in the prevention of child sexual abuse,” said Jolie Logan, President and CEO of Darkness to Light. “Many adults do not know how to recognize signs of sexual abuse, and most do not know what to do if sexual abuse is discovered. The New Jersey Attorney General’s office is empowering adults to protect children, and there is no greater gift than providing safe communities for children to grow up healthy and whole.”
Statistics provided by Darkness to Light are sobering:
- Studies indicate that one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
- Child sexual abuse is linked to a host of societal issues including teen pregnancy, depression, anxiety and suicide.
- Victims are three times more likely to have substance abuse issues, two times more likely to drop out of school, and are at greater risk for physical illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious medical conditions.
- In the U.S. alone, there are an estimated 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse.
- Child sexual abuse ranks second to murder as the most expensive victim crime in the U.S., where immediate and long term costs exceed $35 billion annually.
The two-hour training is the latest step in the department’s ongoing campaign to combat child exploitation, which has included several recent, high profile prosecutions:
- In August, a Voorhees man pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography online from a massive stash of hardcore photos and videos found in his laptop, including images of children being raped. The man also posted more than a thousand photos he took of two young girls on a foreign website and asked site users to Photoshop the girls into child pornography. He faces seven years in state prison.
- In September 2012, a Camden County woman pleaded guilty to having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old boy and photographing the boy and an 8-year-old girl engaged in a sexual act. She faces 10 years in state prison.
In addition, the Attorney General’s Office successfully advocated to strengthen the state’s child exploitation law. The new law includes provisions upgrading the penalties for possession of child pornography, and modernizes the child pornography distribution laws to directly address new technology, such as file-sharing.
Beginning in October, multiple local YMCAs have been holding events around New Jersey to spread the word about this important training.
“The New Jersey Alliance of YMCAs applauds the leadership and commitment of the Attorney General to giving communities the prevention tools needed to make New Jersey a safer place for children,” William Lovett, Executive Director of New Jersey Alliance of YMCAs, said. “All of us have a responsibility to protect our kids, and we invite individuals, organizations, and businesses throughout the state to join us in this effort.”
If you suspect an incident of child sexual abuse, authorities encourage you to contact Darkness to Light’s Helpline at 1-866-FOR-LIGHT. To take the online training session, visit https://d2l.csod.com. A Spanish version of the online training is also available.
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