To the Editor,
The recent news of the horrific alleged abuse of local children by the husband of an unlicensed childcare operator is tremendously tragic and disturbing. Also disturbing is the national statistics of how frequently children are sexually victimized. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. This abuse will continue until society as a whole takes a bold position to make the protection of children a top priority.
Over the past 18 months, the Town of Chelmsford and the Greater Lowell Family YMCA have been partnering with the Darkness to Light Foundation to educate adults about the scope of this national problem and to train them in ways to protect kids from predators. The Darkness to Light Foundation is a national foundation with the sole mission of protecting children from sexual abuse. In that time, we have trained well over 300 adults collectively in the Stewards of Children model. While we are proud of the progress that we have made, we have not begun to address the problem in a meaningful way. We have reached out to many groups, towns and organizations in the attempt to engage them in the fight to protect kids. All agree that the cause is important, but far too often other priorities seem to get in the way. We have learned that many people are uncomfortable with the subject matter and would prefer to believe that this could never happen to a child in their life. With all due respect, if that thought has ever crossed your mind … YOU ARE WRONG!
Protecting kids is everyone’s responsibility and only together can we begin to tackle this tremendous societal crisis. The Wakefield case has brought local attention to a national problem, but for every case that you hear about there are thousands that you do not. The vast majority of cases are never even reported. We ask that those reading this letter answer the call to make protecting kids their responsibility and obligation. The YMCA and the Town of Chelmsford is offering our support through the Darkness to Light Foundation to help you learn more and to join in the goal of fighting the fight to protect our children. To learn more please contact Ray Adams at the YMCA at (978) 454-7825 or Tricia Dzuris in the Chelmsford Town Office at (978) 250-5201. This tragedy will continue until good people stand up and acknowledge the scope of the problem and commit to doing something about it. Won’t you be one of those people?
CEO, Greater Lowell YMCA
Assistant to the Town Manager, Chelmsford, MA