State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

YMCA of Centre County Encourages Community to Take Online Training for Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

by on April 02, 2020 4:30 AM


April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and the YMCA of Centre County is encouraging adults in the community to take Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children, a free, online training program for the prevention of child sexual abuse. 

According to Darkness to Light, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering adults to prevent child abuse, 90 percent of abused children are abused by someone their caregivers know and trust and one in 10 children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.

“April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Every year the YMCA of Centre County partners with Darkness to Light and other local organizations to raise awareness about our prevention efforts and partnerships countywide,” says Jamie SanFilippo, director of community outreach at YMCA of Centre County. “Due to COVID-19, our 2020 initiative will be strictly online. 

“We are promoting Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children, a two-hour child sexual abuse prevention training program for adults. Community members can take the free online training through Aly Raisman’s initiative called The Flip the Switch Campaign.”

The training is accessible at when you use the special code “FLIPTHESWITCH.”

Over 90 percent of YMCA of Centre County staff and volunteers have already taken the Stewards of Children program, according to SanFilippo. 

“The YMCA of Centre County is committed to protecting children and keeping families healthy, happy and whole,” she says. “Our role in the community is to build strong children and families… It is important that every child who comes into our facilities and participates in our programs is safe and comes in contact with an adult who has taken this training.”

Over the two-hour program, participants will learn how to prevent, recognize and appropriately react to a case of child sexual abuse. Participants learn child protection strategies, common situations where child sexual abuse occurs and signs of sexual abuse. 

While the course topic might feel heavy for an already stressful time of pandemic, its online availability makes it convenient for self-isolating individuals to access and, unfortunately, the very nature of the COVID-19 pandemic means more children are at risk for abuse of all kinds. According to End Violence Against Children, a public-private collaborative that encompasses United Nations agencies, governments and other advocating organizations, “high-stress home environments will increase the likelihood of domestic violence and abuse that children either experience or observe. As children continue to spend time at home, they will undoubtedly live more of their lives online — and adults working remotely could more easily connect with children and consume child sexual abuse material. In addition, over time, economic vulnerability may lead to increases in child labour, child marriage and many other child protection issues.” 

“We must take personal risks to protect children: fear of being wrong, possibly offending someone we know and redirecting an adult who is crossing safe boundaries with a child,”  SanFilippo adds. “Ultimately, our discomfort cannot stop us from protecting children. We are not just preventing abuse, we are preventing all the long-term consequences of abuse, which are a lot of social issues we are facing today: alcoholism, drug abuse, incarceration, teens pregnancy, mental illness and suicide.”

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Centre County had 41 substantiated reports of child abuse in 2018, 13 of which involved sexual abuse.

To take the Darkness to Light’s, Stewards of Children course now, visit and use special code “FLIPTHESWITCH.” To first learn more about Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children, visit

After quarantine restrictions have ended, organizations and businesses can schedule face-to-face training by reaching out to SanFilippo directly at [email protected]

Holly Riddle is a freelance food, lifestyle and entertainment writer. She can be reached at [email protected]
Next Article
Bishop Directs Local Catholic Churches to Close Until Further Notice
April 01, 2020 10:13 PM
by Geoff Rushton
Bishop Directs Local Catholic Churches to Close Until Further Notice
Disclaimer: Copyright © 2020 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

order food online