Last month I had the opportunity to speak with Jack McCarthy on his cable show, Norwood Digest. We discussed the issues of educator sexual abuse, grooming, warning signs, prevention education, and much more. It was very powerful for me to come back to my home town and share my story in this way. Jack made this experience a very positive one, and I’m so thankful he helped raise awareness. As always, please share if you think others can benefit from watching this.
Well, I find myself a very fortunate person this week. It seems that WCVB channel 5 feels as passionate as I do to raise awareness about educator abuse. Since my interview with channel 5 aired last week, the station has continued to air the segment every day through Monday. Sunday morning, the General Manager of WCVB, Bill Fine, created an editorial addressing the age of consent, and he included parts of my interview. I am grateful for this assistance in magnifying my voice in this march toward justice and safety for children. If you feel so inclined, please share this video. You never know who it may help. Thank you!
I had the opportunity to sit down with Karen Anderson from Channel 5 Investigates in Boston and share my story. Karen was absolutely wonderful to work with, and I was so impressed with her true desire to make a difference in stopping educator sexual abuse. As always, my prayer is to help raise awareness to spare kids from the abuse I endured.
I watched a story from my home state of Massachusetts today, and my heart grew heavy. Karen Anderson from Channel 5 in Boston investigated teachers’ licenses being revoked in the past 5 years. What she found was 142 educators had their licenses revoked, and over half (78) were due to sexual misconduct. This equates to an average of 15 teachers per year.
Many important points were addressed in this story. Massachusetts, right along with many other states, need laws in place such as the SESAME Act, where background checks are more stringent, passing the trash is forbidden, and criminal charges are possible regardless of the victim’s age. The teacher who abused me groomed me for two years. Just a few short weeks after my 16th birthday, he kissed me. The minute I turned 18 (while I was still a senior in high school) he committed an act that turns my stomach to this day. My point is, a student is vulnerable regardless of what age the government determines a teenager can consent to having sex. There is a boundary between student and teacher that absolutely should not be crossed, and age and gender should be irrelevant.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
KidSafe Foundation Expands To Orlando, Florida
August 10, 2015– The KidSafe Foundation is proud to announce the opening of their new office in Orlando, Florida. Since 2009, KidSafe’s mission has been to make sure every child receives sexual abuse prevention programming and every adult is taught to be the first line of defense in a child’s safety. In Palm Beach and Broward Counties KidSafe has educated over 45,000 children and more than 18,000 adults. Research shows that 95% of abuse and exploitation of children is preventable through education. KidSafe believes that all children deserve a voice and to learn how to keep themselves safe, and every adult deserves to learn how best to protect their children.
To further its mission to prevent child sexual abuse, bullying and internet dangers, KidSafe Foundation is expanding to Orlando, Florida. “The statistics regarding child sexual abuse are staggering. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually exploited before the age of 18. We are thrilled to expand to Orlando and be able to make an even greater impact in protecting children.” said Sally Berenzweig, MEd, MA Cofounder & Executive Director of KidSafe Foundation.
This new expansion marks the third KidSafe location in Florida. Andrea Clemens, MSW, author, public speaker, activist and KidSafe Certified Trainer, will head the new office. Ms. Clemens adds “I am thrilled to bring the KidSafe programs into Central Florida. There is no denying that there is a growing need for prevention education for our children, parents and teachers. I am excited that the Orlando community will now be empowered, find their voices, and have the opportunity for children to live safer lives – free from abuse.” For more information, please call 855-844-SAFE (7233) or contact Andrea Clemens by email at: Andrea@kidsafefoundation.org
About Andrea Clemens
Andrea received her master’s degree in clinical social work from Boston University and has been educating school faculty, students, administrators, parenting groups, mentors, and the general public about educator sexual abuse for over ten years. She is the author of Invisible Target: Breaking the Cycle of Educator Sexual Abuse. Andrea has participated in both local and national radio and television shows, including the Montel Williams Show and Fox News Live.
About KidSafe Foundation
KidSafe is a 501c3 nonprofit founded in 2009 by Sally Berenzweig MEd, MA and Cherie Benjoseph LCSW – child safety experts, mental health professionals, educators, authors, public speakers, and moms on a mission to keep all children safe from child sexual abuse, bullying and internet dangers. KidSafe has taught over 40,000 children and has educated over 15,000 adults in sexual abuse prevention, internet dangers and bullying prevention programs. For more information about KidSafe Foundation, visit www.KidSafeFoundation.org
Contact: Sally Berenzweig – Cofounder & Executive Director KidSafe Foundation
Word is spreading like wildfire today that in 2005, Bill Cosby admitted to purchasing Quaaludes with the intention of drugging women with whom he wished to have sex .
I am writing this today, not to speculate on his guilt or innocence, but instead to address a critical dynamic. When multiple rape allegations against Mr. Cosby arose a year or two ago, I had conversations with various people who insisted that the accusers were fabricating their stories. So many people were incredulous that our dear, old Mr. Huxtable was capable of committing these heinous crimes against women. I often would question their disbelief, and I would be met with reasoning that perpetuated myths across the board.
“Why would he ever do something like that? He’s a nice guy.”
“Those women are just out looking for money or their 15 minutes of fame.”
“If it really happened, why did they wait so long to come forward?”
“Bill Cosby is one of the biggest entertainers out there. No way.”
Suddenly today I’m watching people with their mouths agape, shaking their heads, and waking up to the possibility that yes, Bill Cosby could possibly have raped women. Dozens of them.
Predators have no one profile. They have no singular race, gender, or socioeconomic status. People still tend to believe that a predator looks like a monster. Quite the contrary; the majority of the time, predators are charismatic, manipulative people , often holding positions of power.
Many times victims are blamed, are not believed, or are scorned for speaking their truths. What a cruel world we live in – to perpetuate a silence that can undoubtedly damage a victim’s very soul. I suppose if we start believing all the victims of sexual crimes in the world, the accountability that would need to be constructed would require a major overhaul with many systems.
I do not know if Bill Cosby is guilty or innocent of these crimes. What I do know is that we have a lot of work to do to educate people on sexual violence, predators, and victim advocacy. We all need to speak up about what’s right and look out for each other. That may be a start…
Here’s an article I wrote about healing. I hope it helps others:
I had the pleasure and honor to be a guest speaker this week at the 2015 Healthy Schools Summer Academy, hosted by the Florida Department of Education. Over 100 educators took time out of their valuable summer vacations to participate in workshops and lectures – all to bring more health and wellness to their students.
I shared my story of educator abuse and made a few suggestions on ways to keep our students safe in school. The most wonderful part of this conference for me included the many conversations I had with different participants. Some shared their own personal experiences, while others asked difficult questions concerning various scenarios they have encountered. It was clear to me that these educators are truly passionate about making a difference in their students’ lives, and that just warms my heart.
A well-deserved bravo and congratulations to Michelle Gaines and the rest of her team at the D.O.E. for organizing such a vibrant, informative conference. I also have to commend them for being willing to address the epidemic of educator sexual abuse in this manner. We will not combat this issue by keeping quiet and hoping it goes away on its own. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my experience with these important educators.
I’m looking forward to talking with Tammy Green on her show “Let’s Talk About It with Tammy Green” on WOKB 1680 AM on June 30th at 1:00 pm. People can also listen to the show via a live stream at wokbradio.com . We’re going to discuss my book, Invisible Target, as well as other important issues of safety and prevention for our children. I admire shows that have the courage and willingness to address difficult topics such as educator sexual abuse. Awareness = prevention!