Cities, ISU back child abuse education campaign
CHUBBUCK — Throughout April, Shannon Fox hopes to see a lot of people in Southeast Idaho with a single thumbnail painted blue.
The unusual fashion statement is especially likely to take hold among employees of Idaho State University and the cities of Pocatello, Chubbuck and Blackfoot, she explained.
Fox, coordinator of Bannock Youth Foundation’s Communities Aligned in Prevention Efforts program, said the gesture is a symbol of Child Abuse Prevention Month. The hope is that participants’ painted thumbnails will stimulate conversations throughout April regarding the need for adults to undergo free training sessions teaching them to identify the signs of child sexual abuse. City and university leaders have challenged their staffs to purchase some nail polish and participate.
“We encourage everybody to paint a thumb blue to show support in education of preventing child abuse,” Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad said. “Our fire departments and police departments and city employees are focused on this.”
Bannock Youth Foundation will offer its Free Community Training for Stewards program from 4-6 p.m. April 12 and from 1-3 p.m. April 27. Both trainings will be hosted at the Bannock Youth Foundation Family Resource Center, 403 N. Hayes Ave., and anyone interested in registering may call 208-220-4048.
“One out of 10 children will experience child sexual abuse,” Fox said. “Most of that is not strangers. It’s people you know and trust.”
Statistically, Fox said it’s likely that 2,400 children in the Pocatello and Chubbuck areas will be harmed by sexual abuse.
Fox said 4,300 people have taken the training during the past three years. She said her program hopes to eventually have at least 10 percent of the region’s population trained to recognize the sexual abuse warning signs.
Idaho State University has planned events to be hosted during a related Child Abuse Prevention Week, in partnership with the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. At 2:30 p.m. April 8 at Reed’s Gym, ISU will host a proclamation and rally kicking off the week, offering free Jamba Juice.
On April 9-10 at the Pond Student Union Building, people will be invited to sign a trauma prevention banner. From 7-9 p.m. April 10, the Bengal Theater will host a fundraiser, with free food, raffle items and a screening of the film “Resilience.” Fox said the movie offers background on both physical sexual abuse of children.
The events will culminate with the April 12 Bannock Youth Foundation training, where free pizza will be served.
“At ISU we are all in on helping with this effort,” said ISU President Kevin Satterlee.
The training receives financial backing from the state-supported Idaho Children’s Trust Fund. The fund provides revenue to several Idaho programs that seek to prevent child abuse.
“These (trainings) are proven to be successful,” said Brenda Stanley, a member of the Children’s Trust Fund board. “It’s something we really hope people will take advantage of.”
Stanley said the American Falls Police Department was among the first entities in Idaho to have its members take the training, and she’d like to see other departments follow suit.
Chubbuck Mayor Kevin England encouraged the public to support Bannock Youth Foundation and similar programs financially.
“I think it’s important you get involved to the point that you get educated and understand what you can do to help,” England said.
Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll said children represent the future of the community and must be protected.
“Anything any of us can do as adults we should do to ensure the health and safety and welfare of young people,” Carroll said.