In the aftermath of child sexual assault charges against Wakefield resident John Burbine, members of the community and organizations are coming together to learn how to protect children.
Amy Luckiewicz , president of the Wakefield Rotary Club and the meeting’s organizer, knew she needed to do something when discussion about Burbine’s case faded.
“It just died off. People just stopped talking about it,” said Luckiewicz, who noted the chilling revelation that Burbine’s office was visible from the Rotary’s meeting place. “It was very real and traumatic, and I had a hard time with that.”
Designed for parents, the meeting will feature Marybeth Dwyer, a representative from the Children’s Trust Fund , a Massachusetts organization aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect. The program will cover topics such as what to look for when seeking a child-care provider; teaching children to protect themselves; encouraging them to tell someone if they are touched inappropriately; and what to do if a child discloses abuse.
“Just like you talk to them about car safety, you need to talk about touching safety,” said Luckiewicz. “This is one more tool in the parenting toolbox.”
Luckiewicz collaborated with local groups to organize Monday’s event, which will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library lecture hall. The workshop, where dinner and child care will be provided to 30 adults who sign up, is sponsored by the Burbank YMCA , the Children’s Trust Fund , the Wakefield Alliance Against Violence , the Wakefield Police Department , the Wakefield Rotary Club , and the library .
Wakefield follows in the footsteps of YMCAs in Bellingham , Brockton , East Bridgewater , Melrose , Methuen , North Easton , Stoughton , Taunton , and Woburn , who offer Stewards of Children, a similar educational program for adults. As in Wakefield, Melrose adopted an awareness program after a Melrose YMCA employee was imprisoned after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting two girls in 2009.
Luckiewicz said that it’s unfortunate that action came too late for these victims, but she hopes that starting a prevention program in Wakefield will encourage other communities to do the same.
“I wish that I had thought of this two years ago,” she said. “My hope for other towns is they learn from our lesson. Being on the preventative side is better than being on the reactive side.”Christina Jedra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaJedra.