EASTON — The Talbot County Department of Social Services is partnering with Sts. Peter and Paul Elementary School in Easton to offer the Empower Me program, a child sexual abuse prevention program, to students in pre-K through fifth grade.
The program is in response to Erin’s Law that has been passed in 35 states mandating child sexual abuse prevention.
Empower Me teaches children, ages 3 through 12, and adults about personal safety. Children learn four safety rules and how to develop a safety net of trusted adults.
Talbot County Child Protective Services receives about 200 reports alleging child physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect annually.
“Partnering with the Department of Social Services through the Empower Me Program was the next logical step in Sts. Peter and Paul’s effort to not only provide a superior academic experience but also offer our students comprehensive social/emotional learning strategies,” said Dr. Faye Schilling, principal of Sts. Peter and Paul Elementary School. “I am confident that the skills acquired from the Empower Me program will help our students to make effective decisions and give them a ‘sixth sense’ when it comes to navigating the complexities and dangers within our society.”
As part of Sts. Peter and Paul’s rollout plan, the school recently offered a teachable safety skills program to parents of children in pre-K through fifth grade.
“Our hope is that beginning the process with a parent presentation will help ensure that there are a common framework and language used when discussing personal safety within our school community and families,” said Marianne Connolly, school counselor at Sts. Peter and Paul’s Elementary School. “The program gives parents specific safety rules to reinforce with their children at home. Paris Quillet and Deputy John Coleman encouraged parents to have lots of little talks about personal safety with their children, rather than ‘the talk’.”
The program, which is being offered in conjunction with the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office, is available to all schools in Talbot County.
An Empower Me! Child Safety Presentation will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Talbot County Free Library. The program is free, and dinner will be provided with the presentation, which will include sessions for parents and students in the community.