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Limestone Professor Brings Insight to Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse
Dr.Saurino
Dr. Saurino

By Alicia Smith '11

During the summer, Limestone Associate Professor of Elementary Education Dr. Penelope Saurino hosted a series of workshops for Darkness to Light (D2L), a non-profit prevention program based out of Charleston, SC.

The mission of the organization is to provide adults with the education necessary to protect children from sexual abuse, and Dr. Saurino wants to spread the organization's message to the community here. And the best part is that it is offered at no cost.

In 2010, Dr. Saurino became a facilitator of "Stewards of Children," the 2 ½ hour training sessions that empower adults with the knowledge needed to recognize the signs of child sexual abuse and to minimize the probability of it happening altogether. "Once you read the statistics as to how pervasive this problem is and, if you have a heart for children, how could you not do something to help curtail the situation?" she explained.

While all teachers in the state of South Carolina are required to complete "Stewards of Children" training, Dr. Saurino believes that the necessity of the workshop expands the confines of just the education field. "Anybody who has the potential of being a parent," she says, "should be exposed to this material because it is the parents who have the greatest opportunity to prevent the sexual abuse of their children."

And the statistics she was given about the abuse are simply horrifying. "One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday, and 20% of victims of sexual abuse are under the age of 8," she recalls. Many cases go unreported and these children, along with those who tell and are not believed, are at a "greater risk than anyone else in the general population for psychological, emotional, social and physical problems."

The easiest way to do so is to arm children with the right and ability to say no. "Children need to know that no one should touch them unless it's with their permission or that of a doctor or parent. A child should always know that they can say ‘no' when someone is touching their body in any way."

Dr. Saurino feels that child sexual abuse is an issue that can truly be healed through education. Shedding light on such a dark problem can only help bring the abuse to an end. "The emotional and psychological impact of child sexual abuse is so severe and so profound that it needs to be stopped. And with that said, we can arm adults, through ‘Stewards of Children' training, with the tools that they need to protect our most precious little people who are defenseless without our help."

For those interested in participating in "Stewards of Children" training or learning more about the organization, please contact Dr. Penelope Saurino via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by phone at 864-488-8215 or 770-375-8791. You can also visit the "Darkness to Light" website .