I was so excited at the opportunity to become a Stewards of Children Facilitator. As a survivor of child sexual abuse myself I know firsthand the impact that this has on a child and the after effects that it has on those close to the survivor and the community in which they live in. I am still haunted by feelings of being surrounded by people, suffocating yet no one sees me. Often thinking I wish one adult would see me and make this stop. As we have learned from this valuable training often times adults are too frightened to act when they see something suspicious, or they are unaware of the signs of abuse happening or being presented right in front of them. I set a goal for myself to take this training out and train as many people possible. Education is power and if we train our community and one child is saved that would be worth all the effort.
My first goal was to train the members of the Fayetteville Police Department. As a department of over 400 sworn officers who respond to calls daily where children are present, and who work at various events where we are surrounded by children, training these officers was vital to my mission. Not only do police officers serve and protect the children of our community I know our department has a heart for our communities children. In speaking with Chief Hawkins about the training, without hesitation she was excited about the training and gave her approval to have the entire department go through the training. Not only were the 433 sworn officers trained but all of our civilian staff, and dispatchers were trained as well.
My next goal was to train my church family and those in the congregation that work with our children. Not only do I work with the smaller children I also work with the youth at my church. The children of Refuge Church are like my church grandchildren and protecting them and any other child who walks through our doors was extremely important to me. I spoke with my pastor’s wife who is in charge of our children’s ministry and she like Chief Hawkins was immediately receptive and supportive. I believe so much in this training and the lives it can change that I look forward to continuing to push this training out to all who will invite us, and pray that God will use it to save our children, because it really does take a village to raise happy healthy children, and what we do does make a difference.
Peggy Smith, Police Sergeant
Special Victims Unit/Youth Services Unit
Fayetteville Police Department