Editor's Note: The following is a news release issued by Lawrence Township-based PEI Kids.
To educate Mercer County citizens and organizations about the sensitive and prevalent issue of child sexual abuse, PEI Kids/Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and the Mercer County Commission on Abused, Neglected and Missing Children recently hosted a conference entitled "Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: It's Everyone's Responsibility."
Presented on Nov. 19 at Mercer County Community College, the conference featured breakout sessions and presentations from keynote speaker Dr. Martin A. Finkel, DO, F.A.C.O.P, F.A.A.P, the medical director and co-founder of the Child Abuse Research Education & Service (CARES) Institute.
Marygrace Billek, Director of Health and Human Services for Mercer County, presented opening remarks, and Robin Scheiner, assistant prosecutor, Mercer County Prosecutor's Office delivered the conference "wrap up." The audience of approximately 100 people also heard from presenters including educators; business, religious, and nonprofit leaders; and law enforcement officials.
- "Specialized Treatment of Child Victims of Sexual Abuse: What Every Mental Health Practitioner Needs to Know"
- "A Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy: Why Your Organization Should Have One"
- "Grooming: Identifying Signs of Sexual Abuse and Abusers"
- "When a Child Abuses Another Child"
- "Cybersafety with Today's Technology"
- "What to Do When a Child Discloses or You Suspect a Child is Being Abused"
- "Child Sexual Abuse: How the Health Care Community Can Lead the Way in Identification and Protection"
- "The Role and Response of the Faith-Based Community"
- "Where Do We Go from Here? Take Action Now."
“Studies show that one out of every four girls and one out of every six boys are the victims of child sexual abuse,” said Penny Ettinger, executive director of PEI Kids, a nonprofit organization that provides counseling to 95 percent of Mercer County's child victims of sexual abuse.
PEI Kids also serves as the lead agency in Mercer County for the Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse, part of a state-wide "Enough Abuse Campaign" under the direction of Prevent Child Abuse - New Jersey.
The Coalition is working to educate every adult who works and/or lives in Mercer County on 1) how to prevent child sexual abuse, 2) how to recognize when a child may be being abused and 3) how to respond appropriately.
"Child sexual abuse is a community epidemic that can have devastating consequences for children, families and the community. With appropriate knowledge, every person can help prevent it, address it and keep our children safe,” Ettinger continued.
About the Mercer County Commission on Abused, Neglected and Missing Children
Since 1985, the Mercer County Commission on Abused, Neglected and Missing Children has initiated the development of programs and services that enhance the physical, emotional, and social well-being of children in Mercer County. The Commission also educates the public on issues relating to the welfare of children, provides a forum for professionals and volunteers to coordinate resources, and advocates for programs and policies that will improve the quality of services for the youth in Mercer County.
For further information on the Mercer County Commission on Abused, Neglected and Missing Children, please call 609-278-4845 or visit http://nj.gov/counties/mercer/departments/hs/children.html.
About PEI Kids/Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
PEI Kids’ aspiration for the children of Mercer County, NJ, is “Safe Kids, Sound Futures.” For the past 27 years, its mission has been dedicated to promoting and maintaining a safe environment for all children. Its services include engaging, developmentally appropriate and culturally diverse Prevention/Education and Intervention programs relating to personal safety; physical and sexual abuse; understanding physical and educational differences; school safety and bullying; anger management; gang prevention; and the overall well-being of the child and family.
PEI Kids is also the lead agency of the Greater Mercer Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse, comprising representatives from all 13 Mercer municipalities and cross disciplines including the medical community, child welfare, adult survivors of sexual abuse, law enforcement, religion and education. The Coalition's goals include educating every adult who works and/or lives in Mercer County on 1) how to prevent child sexual abuse, 2) how to recognize when a child may be being abused and 3) how to respond appropriately.
To learn more, please call 609-695-3739 or visit www.peikids.org. All calls regarding possible abuse are confidential.