Polk County teachers to receive training to prevent, detect child abuse

Published 5:57 pm Monday, November 19, 2018

All Polk County teachers will be trained to prevent, detect and respond appropriately to childhood sexual abuse, thanks to a grant from Mary Sasser in honor of her sister, Suzanne Plumly.  

Mary Edwards, executive director of Be A Voice 4 Kids, has worked for this dream since she founded the organization in June 2015. 

Be A Voice 4 Kids works to educate, prevent and heal child abuse through spiritual strength, peer support and inspiration.  

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“At least 1 in 10 children in our country are victims of childhood sexual abuse by the time they reach the age of 18,” Edwards said. “This training raises awareness so we can end that trend.” 

Aaron Greene, Polk County superintendent of schools, shares her dedication to ending child abuse, as he said he would require the training for teachers as soon as funds could be found for it. 

The Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training costs $20 a person, and Polk County has 200 teachers. 

“Somehow, we had to come up with $4,000,” Edwards said.  

Edwards shared her dream with the Kiwanis Club of Tryon this month at its regular luncheon meeting. Greene nodded in support as he listened in the audience.  

Lou Parton, vice president of Be A Voice, supplied statistics and factual data. After the meeting ended, Mary Sasser, a Kiwanis member, walked up to Edwards with a check for $4,000.

“It’s so rewarding when people actually listen and know that there is a need,” Edwards said. “Now we can offer this training to every teacher in Polk County. We will protect our county’s children.”

Members of the group have trained more than 300 community members as Stewards of Children, an award-winning, nationally recognized program. Ronette Dill, director of curriculum and instruction, will work with Edwards to implement the training for teachers. 

The next training will be open to all from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29, at Mill Spring First Baptist Church, 4320 Highway 108 E., Mill Spring. Those interested in registering may call 828-817-4267.

-Submitted by Kiesa Kay