LOUISVILLE, Colo. — WARNING: This story deals with the topic of sexual assault.
From a park in Louisville, Feather Berkower shows the "conversation starter" cards she's handed out at all sorts of places: outpatient treatment groups, prisons and workshops.
"This is a tool parents can use to start a conversation with a nanny or a baby sitter or their own family member or whomever they're going to put their child in the care of to discuss the body safety rules, because parents are so afraid often to start talking about this topic," Berkower said.
It's just one of the many strategies she's implemented in her work as founder of Parenting Safe Children, which is a Colorado-based workshop that looks to keep children safe from sexual assault.
"I think the truth is that it's really hard to get people to want to come to talk about child sex abuse because it's so uncomfortable," she said. "And what I tell parents all the time is, 'yes, it's uncomfortable. People who sexually abuse children are counting on our discomfort, and children are counting on us to push through it.' So I often ask, 'are you willing to feel a little uncomfortable so children never have to?' because it's our job to protect kids. It's not their job to protect themselves," she explained.
Before the pandemic, she said she was able to host around four to six workshops a month, but since the onset of COVID-19, she's down to just a few a month now, and mainly over Zoom.
However, she says there is still consistent interest, estimating that anywhere between 40 to 100 people show up to attend a workshop.
"I really think that that parents are hungry for this information," she said.
She explained that additionally, parents come after being encouraged to do so by their friends.
One of the things that she says she teaches in the workshop is how to build what's called a Prevention Team ™.
"And so parents will come and then they'll leave and go tell their friends, ’in order for our children to play together, I really want you to take this workshop because I want to be on the same page with you.’" she explained.
Berkower teaches a variety of topics at her workshops, including privacy, forced affection, body safety rules and more.
"However, and this is the most important part that we cannot rely on children to protect themselves, it has to come from adults," she said.
Berkower believes that over all, anywhere that children are, is an access point for this crime.
"It's opportunity and access and it's our job to minimize that opportunity," she said.
Berkower's next workshop will be October 8. For more details, click here.
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