Focus on Youth: Training the Villagers
There’s a saying: it takes a whole village to raise a child. Raising children also entails protecting them from abusers and predators. There is a program in northwest Arkansas that is training professionals to do just that.
Rendering of the National Child Protection Training Center — Southern Region
photograph courtesy of Northwest Arkansas Community College
For nearly a decade the National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC), based nationally at Winona State University in Minn., has worked to eliminate child abuse in America. Its mission is: to end child abuse and neglect and other forms of child maltreatment in three generations. The NCPTC works towards this goal through education; training; awareness; prevention; advocacy; and pursuit of justice. Thus far, more than 40,000 child protection professionals in the United Sates and 17 countries have been trained.
In 2009, the Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) was chosen as the Southern Regional Site; the college is in the midst of a $3.25-million capital campaign to renovate and furnish the training center.
Amy Benincosa is the development coordinator for the NCPTC at NWACC. “We provide training for current and future child protection professionals,” she said. “That is anyone and everyone who works with children, professionals who work in mandatory-reporting fields such as teachers, social workers, counselors, law enforcement officers, mental healthcare providers, first responders and health care providers, such as doctors, nurses and dentists, as well as others.”
NWACC currently offers 16 credit hours in Child Advocacy Studies that can be attached to any associate degree; and Benincosa said the college is in the process of creating an associate degree. The curriculum includes courses such as Introduction to Criminal Justice; Response to Child Maltreatment; and Child Abuse and Neglect.
“For current professionals, we have intensive, short-term courses — 1 to 5 days of training specific to their fields. Currently these are offered on the campus; later, they’ll be held in the center,” she said.
The state-of-the-art center will house mock living quarters, practice courtrooms and forensic interview rooms allowing more collaborative, hands-on training. For example, one of the sessions is “From Crime Scene to Trial” and forms a team of four — a law enforcement officer, a prosecutor, social worker and an investigator. The training begins in a mock house set up as a crime scene with actors portraying an abusive situation. The team must work together to investigate and collect evidence, conduct interviews and make recommendations for judicial proceedings.
Thus far, about $737,000 has been raised; about $500,000 will be used for equipment such as cameras, recording devices and other technology. When the facility opens instructors will train up to 1,000 people annually.
“The NWACC NCPTC serves 16 states, including Alabama; Arkansas; Delaware; Florida; Oklahoma; Virginia; West Virginia; and Washington, D.C. The Center hopes to have the Child Advocacy Studies Training curriculum (CAST) in 100 colleges/universities by 2013 and in 500 colleges/universities by 2018; however, Northwest Arkansas Community College will be one of only four sites with a hands-on training facility,” Benincosa said.
For more information, log onto ncptc.org or visit nwacc.edu/web/ncptc for links; class information; fundraising updates; a virtual tour of the center; and an opportunity to contribute to the capital campaign.
Keys to Safety
The Arkansas Attorney General’s office Outreach Division has developed Keys to Safety, a program designed to help adults, children and teens identify issues surrounding online safety, child abduction and runaway issues. The curriculum was developed with assistance from law enforcement, teachers and students.
As the school year approaches, we share some of the guidelines and advice from the site and officials. Log onto ag.arkansas.gov for further information; quizzes and games for young children; brochures; and additional tips.
Parents, Make sure your child knows the ABCs of Safety for Children
- Be certain your parents know where you are — including addresses and phone numbers — and who — the person’s full name — you are with.
- Never talk to strangers or go near their cars. Just because someone knows your name or is someone you see every day doesn’t mean he or she isn’t a stranger.
- Use the buddy system when you play or go somewhere. If your plans change always tell your parents or another trusted adult.
- Do not keep secrets from your parents — even if, and especially if, an adult asks you to. If you’re uncomfortable about something, tell your mom and dad.
- You have permission to say NO to an adult. You do not have to do anything that frightens you, hurts you or embarrasses you.
- Memorize your parents’ full names, their cellular and work phone numbers and your home address.
Kids, never give private information to someone online. What is private?
- your full (first and last) name
- your street address
- the name of your school
- your e-mail address
- your passwords
- your cell or home phone numbers
- your mother’s maiden name
How to Handle CyberBullies
Bullies may use hurtful words or make threats in person or online. Bullying should not be tolerated. If you feel you’re being bullied:
- Turn off the computer.
- Leave the website or chat room you’re logged into.
- Block the bully from your social website page or from your chat room.
- Ignore the bully — don’t reply or respond to the messages.
- Call an adult — your parent or teacher — to the computer.
- Print the bully’s message.
Tips for Protecting Your Teen Online
Signs that your child/teen may be “at risk”:
- He or she spends large amounts of time online — especially at night.
- Pornography on the computer or a history of visits to pornographic websites.
- Phone calls from adults you do not know or from long-distance phone numbers you don’t recognize.
- Mail or packages from a person or address you don’t recognize.
- Your child changes the computer screen, minimizes it or hides a window when you come into the room.
- Your child becomes withdrawn from the family or friends.
- Your child uses a secondary e-mail address or a friend’s e-mail address.
To minimize your child’s risk:
- Talk to your child about sexual victimization and the potential danger online.
- Spend time with your child online.
- Keep the computer in a common room in the house — not his or her bedroom.
- Utilize parental controls — often available from your service provider — and use site-blocking software.
- Always maintain access to your child’s online accounts and randomly check his or her e-mail accounts; follow your child on social networking websites.
Teach your child safety guidelines for being online:
- Keep your passwords and pictures to yourself.
- Never arrange a meeting with a stranger or someone you’ve met online.
- Do not say something online that you could not or would not say in public.
- Do not respond to posts or messages that are obscene, suggestive or embarrassing.
- Never send inappropriate pictures.
- Never download pictures from someone you don’t know.
- Go to your parent or trusted adult immediately if something makes you uncomfortable or you feel threatened.
Internet Safety for Teens
- Never post your cellular phone number online.
- Do not “check in” at home, school or work.
- Do not text and drive.
- Be careful — do not post online what you would not say in public. Protect your reputation.
- Never send nude pictures over the Internet or via cellular phone — it’s against the law.
- Report inappropriate material or behavior to your parent or to the Cybertipline at cybertipline.com or by calling (800) 843-5678.