Project Self-Sufficiency helps launch 'Enough Abuse' effort to prevent child sexual abuse

published: April 1, 2012
in the Warren Reporter

Legislators, social service organizations, municipal officials and educators convened in Newton on Friday to begin a local effort to combat child sexual assault. Sussex County nonprofit agency Project Self-Sufficiency has been chosen, along with only two other nonprofit organizations in the state of New Jersey, to take part in a ground-breaking effort to end child sexual abuse in partnership with Prevent Child Abuse – New Jersey. The agency will be joined by PEI Kids, located in Mercer County, and Wynona’s House, headquartered in Newark, as the first organizations in New Jersey to replicate the Enough Abuse Campaign throughout their communities.

The initiative aims to educate teens and adults about the nature and scope of child sexual abuse, and provide the tools necessary to protect children. For example, studies continue to show that many parents believe the major risk of child sexual abuse involves strangers, when in fact, up to 90% of sexual predators are actually known to the victim.

From left to right: Project Self-Sufficiency Program Coordinator
Claire Willetts; Enough Abuse [Campaign] Program Coordinator
Alison Lampron; Project Self-Sufficiency Board of Director Beverly
Gordon; Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey Rush
Russell; and Massachusetts Citizens for Children Executive Director
 Jetta Bernier gather to kick of the Enough Abuse child sexual
assault prevention campaign in Sussex and Warren Counties

Prevent Child Abuse – New Jersey (PCA-NJ), the state chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, is a nonprofit that works throughout the state to eliminate child abuse and neglect. “Child sexual abuse is a serious public health problem in New Jersey and causes devastating harm to victims,” said Rush Russell, Executive Director of PCA-NJ. “We congratulate these three communities for their courage and commitment to taking action now to prevent any child from being sexually abused, and we look forward to expanding the network of committed communities statewide.”

With funding support from the Ms. Foundation for Women and Prevent Child Abuse America, PCA-NJ has established the New Jersey Partnership to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse, bringing together experts from every sector and region of the State who share a commitment to preventing child sexual abuse. The Partnership is currently working on a new strategic plan for the State of New Jersey to strengthen efforts to prevent child sexual abuse, and will also help to oversee the three local community projects as they begin their work.

“Project Self-Sufficiency is proud to be partnering with Prevent Child Abuse – New Jersey in this important effort to eliminate child sexual abuse in northwestern New Jersey,” said Alison Lampron, Enough Abuse [Campaign]Program Coordinator. “This educational outreach program will build on Project Self-Sufficiency’s 25-year history of assisting families with their goals of becoming stable and economically self-sufficient. Protecting our children from harm is an adult responsibility, and we are confident that the Enough Abuse Campaign will help to prevent child sexual abuse and result in safer, more stable families in our community.”

The gathering featured keynote speaker and activist Jetta Bernier, who serves as the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Citizens for Children organization. Jetta provides leadership in the areas of child abuse prevention, family support, and child welfare, and directs the "Enough Abuse Campaign" in the state of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts initiative was funded through a 5-year grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2002 to 2007, and is currently supported by the Ms. Foundation for Women.

Jetta is also Co-Chair of the Coalition to Reform Sex Abuse Laws, a grassroots coalition that succeeded in 2006 in extending Massachusetts’ criminal Statute of Limitations in cases of child sexual abuse and that is working to pass the Comprehensive Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Act of 2009 to address gaps in current laws.

“The Enough Abuse Campaign is all about action. We have got to take action to prevent child sexual abuse. There is not one particular program that will change society and the way it deals with child sexual abuse, so we must look to other public health initiatives. Social movements must have strategies on several fronts. houghtfully, diligently, we will educate people and encourage them to take action, and we will build this movement,” commented Jetta, noting that other social movements such as anti-smoking or the use of child safety helmets combined public education, with policy initiatives, collaborative planning and targeted intervention to cause behavioral change over time.
Project Self-Sufficiency is a private nonprofit community-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of low-income families residing in northwestern New Jersey. The agency’s mission is to provide a broad spectrum of holistic, respectful, and comprehensive services enabling low-income single parents, teen parents, two-parent families, and displaced homemakers to improve their lives and the lives of their children while achieving personal and economic self-sufficiency and family stability. Since 1986 Project Self-Sufficiency has served more than 19,500 families, including more than 30,000 children.

For information about the Enough Abuse [Campaign] community outreach program, or any of the other programs and services offered at Project Self-Sufficiency, call 973-940-3500.

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