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Conover workers received special training this week that could save lives.
After a mandate from the city manager, all Conover employees participated in child sexual abuse prevention training from the Childrenâ€™s Advocacy and Protection Center (CAPC).
The center has provided prevention training to more than 800 adults this year already, and Conover is the first city to sign up for the instruction, said Adrienne Opdyke, victim advocate at CAPC.
City workers are getting a â€ścrash courseâ€ť in abuse prevention during multiple sessions throughout the next two weeks.
â€śIf you teach adults how to change behavior, thatâ€™s how you impact the problem,â€ť Opdyke said, adding that the training Conover will receive can directly impact the community. â€śThey are dealing with the community and neighborhoods every day and will see kids, parents and have an opportunity to share and practice what they have learned.â€ť
The program is offered through Darkness to Light, an international non-profit organization that seeks to protect children from sexual abuse by placing responsibility squarely on adult shoulders, according to their training information.
Conover City Manager Donald Duncan heard about the training in May and immediately thought city workers â€“ and all adults â€“ could benefit from the instruction.
â€śItâ€™s tragic what happens to victims,â€ť Duncan said. â€śAnd it has a much bigger impact on the generations that are affected after the fact â€“ the ripple effect it has on everyone involved.â€ť
Duncan required all city employees to attend the training. He said after sessions complete next week, about 96 percent of all city employees will be trained.
â€śI think as an adult, but also a part of government, itâ€™s our responsibility to protect children,â€ť he said. â€śWeâ€™ve chosen to honor that responsibility.â€ť
Conover is not the only group to receive sexual abuse prevention training.
The CAPC, which started the prevention training this year, has completed 50 percent of its goal to train 1,600 adults during 2011. Opdyke said the protection center wants to train a total of 5,000 adults throughout the next five years.
CAPC administers the training for free after a grant from the United Way last year helped them buy instruction materials for participants, Opdyke said.
The protection center has trained adults in area churches as well as students in higher education institutions like Catawba Valley Community College.
Anyone can take the training, and calendars for training events can be found at CAPCâ€™s website, www.catawbacountycac.org. Organizations wishing to request group training can also contact CAPC at 828-465-7665, Opdyke said.
Duncan encourages other municipalities and organizations to take the training, and he said the city would be open to providing space for other groups to use Conoverâ€™s facilities.
â€śThis might be the training that saves someoneâ€™s life,â€ť Duncan said. â€śItâ€™s as important, or even more important, than CPR."
Conover Police Lt. L.E. Loftin agrees.
"To break the cycle, it's going to take education of the public," Loftin said. "We deal with it more often than people think. We would like to have zero cases, but that's just not the case."
Loftin said CPD has an officer that specifically handles child abuse situations. There are multiple open cases currently under investigation, he said.
Fore more information about CAPC, visit catatawbacountycac.org.