• Jennifer Elizabeth Peace

The One Thing You Need to Ask Your Child's Teacher

It’s one of my favorite times of the year, and the most dreaded by my children. While my children are nervous about fitting in, whether their teachers will be fun or “not-so-nice” and, of course, worried about making new friends, I’m excited because they will be learning so much, and I know they will make great friends just like last year.

But there is one thing that makes me nervous as a parent sending my child off to school, and that is whether our teachers have all the tools they need to help our children. I know teachers spend a lot of their own money on school supplies and our teachers spend countless hours worrying over curriculum and being the best teachers they can be. And our communities are so wonderful to help with back to school supply drives and other initiatives.

But one thing seems to be forgotten, and that became very evident during the Jerry Sandusky trial.

Do our teachers really have the tools to prevent child sex abuse and do they have the knowledge in case it becomes a problem in their school? Do they know the reporting laws and the harm that comes if a case is not reported the right way? Do they know they don’t have to be detectives themselves and that by reporting a potential issue they are not accusing anyone of a crime? Do they know the benefits that will come to a child by having just one adult in their life that reacts the appropriate way?

And did you know that school personnel identify 52% of all identified child sexual abuse cases classified as causing harm to the child? This is more than any other profession, including child protective services and the police. As mandatory reporters, teachers are crucial to protecting kids.

When our kids go back to school, we always have plenty to worry about it — from little things like their clothing and lunches to bigger things like their happiness, education and safety.

One thing I shouldn’t have to worry about is if my children’s teachers have the training to identify the signs of child sexual abuse — not just for their safety, but for the safety of their classmates, too.

That is why I am offering to teach the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children Child Sex Abuse Prevention Class in my county, and I am asking you to help in one of two ways. You can share this message and ask your child’s teacher and principal to bring the class to their school, and, if possible, you can also help cover the cost of the mandatory training book that each teacher must have to take the course. The books and materials cost $15 for each person taking the class.

I know our teachers are busy but not enough has been done to promote prevention training in schools. Why is that? Classrooms are overcrowded, supplies are short and school employees aren’t provided with the tools to protect the children they serve. We need to support our teachers.

Great teachers need to be empowered so they know how to recognize the signs of abuse, and how to respond if they suspect or discover it is happening to a child in their care.

We need to focus on building communities where adults know the signs of child sexual abuse. The tools of prevention and action are needed everywhere to keep kids safe.

It’s our time to act to protect our children and prevent what happened at Penn State. Each person can make a difference.

Ending child sexual abuse is a team effort, and you can be part of the solution!

To learn more about the program I facilitate with Darkness to Light, visit

To donate to help local teachers get this training, send me an email!

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