Child Abuse Prevention Movement Adds Five New Trainers

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"The Child Advocacy Center set an ambitious goal to train 5% of the adult population in Rutherford and Cannon Counties how to protect children from child sexual abuse utilizing the Darkness to Light Curriculum," said Child Advocacy Center director Sharon De Boer.

Darkness to Light is a program that Child Advocacy Centers in Rutherford County, Cannon County, and across the nation utilize with the mission to prevent sexual abuse.

"The evidence based Darkness to Light training centers on teaching adults how to prevent, recognize, and respond to child sexual abuse in a responsible and appropriate manner. By learning the 5 Steps to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse, community members will be prepared if they encounter an at risk child in our community," said Community Education Coordinator Zach Sanders.

These five new trainers join a group of 29 authorized facilitators in Rutherford and Cannon Counties certified to teach the Darkness to Light curriculum. National statistics state that 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. These 5 new trainers will work to educate the community to break this cycle of abuse, will you join them?

Dawana Guice:

Dawana Guice is a graduate of MTSU with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. She is a former employee of the Department of Children's Services, and is currently employed as the Drug Endangered Children Coordinator for the Child Advocacy Center.

Venessa Hyer:

Venessa Hyer is a graduate of MTSU with a Bachelor's degree in Social Work. As a Department of Children's Services employee Hyer has spent five years working in Child Protective Services, and is a certified mentor with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation training.

Brandie Justice:

Brandie Justice is a 13 veteran of the Department of Children's Services with a degree in Social Work that she earned at Austin Peay State University. Working as one of the department's Team Leads, Justice is very passionate about ensuring the safety of children she serves.

Samantha Keeling:

Samantha Keeling works at Department of Children's Services and The Next Door, and will be an adjunct professor in the coming months. She holds undergraduate degrees in Sociology and Anthropology from Fisk University, a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and two years of doctoral work at Trevecca Nazarene University.

Hope Phelps:

Hope Phelps is an employee at the Department of Children's Services with experience working in sexual assault, counseling at-risk teens, foster care, and volunteer supervision working with those experiencing homelessness.

"The Child Advocacy Center has been on the front lines with the Child Protective Investigative Team responding to child abuse and child sexual abuse cases for the last 18 years. Darkness to Light is our hope that we can prevent child sexual abuse from happening. We are excited that the new authorized Darkness to Light facilitators are available to train community groups. Each of them brings a wealth of experience working with child sexual abuse victims and their families," concluded De Boer.

Please contact Zach Sanders at the Child Advocacy Center to bring the Darkness to Light child sexual abuse prevention training to your church, school, business, non-profit agency, sports league, civic group, or other organization. Sanders may be contacted at the Child Advocacy Center at 615-867-9000 or


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child abuse, Child advocacy, child sex abuse, Murfreesboro, Smyrna
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