HAMMOND, La., April 1 -- Southeastern Louisiana University issued the following news release:
Southeastern Louisiana University has been recognized by Child Advocacy Services (CAS) for its efforts to ensure all teacher education candidates at the university undergo training intended to prevent sexual abuse among children.
Shirley Jacob, interim dean of the College of Education, accepted the Mary Ellen Award at a regional premier screening of a new training video, "Stewards of Children," held Thursday (March 27) at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. The award is named for Mary Ellen Wilson, the first documented case of child abuse and neglect in the country in 1874.
CAS, a non-profit organization, serves children and families in 10 area parishes, providing services through the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Children's Advocacy Center.
The preview screening at the Columbia of "Stewards of Children" also featured an appearance by Margaret Hoelzer, a member of the U.S. Olympics swim team who earned three medals in the 2008 Olympics and currently holds the world record in the 200 meter backstroke. A survivor of sexual abuse, Hoelzer appears in "Stewards of Children," where she shares her story of courage and perseverance.
CAS President and CEO Rob Carlisle said Southeastern's Department of Teaching and Learning made a requirement in 2012 that all of its teacher education candidates would be trained in the Stewards of Children curriculum. The evidence-based program was developed by the Charleston, S.C. non-profit organization Darkness to Light, which is dedicated to child sexual abuse training.
"As a result, over 915 students have been trained in Stewards of Children,' Carlisle said. "Southeastern is the only university in Louisiana to take such a stance and to demonstrate this type of leadership for the children of our community."
In accepting the award, Jacob noted the College of Education's commitment to the safety of all children.
"We instill this in our prospective teachers from the outset of their preparation," she said. "In many cases, it will be the teacher who will recognize the early signs of sexual abuse among children."
"Our teacher candidates now know the important role they play in helping to ensure the safety of the children they teach," said Cynthia Elliott, interim head of the Southeastern Department of Teaching and Learning. "They have gained increased awareness of the prevalence of abuse, learned how to recognize the signs and know the resources available to help stop this behavior."
The program was hosted by Entergy with support from Burns Estate Planning and PJ's Coffee.
For more information on the Stewards of Children training program, contact CAS at 985-902-9583.
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