A local woman who believes Mammoth Lakes has had more than its share of child sexual abuse is stepping up to offer a class to prevent the crime.
Donna Lisa Knowles, a mother and local real estate agent, said she has had enough of the silence and the reality of child sexual abuse in Mammoth.
“In the past few years, Mammoth Lakes has had more than its fair share of publicity regarding the topic, and far more than our share of victims,” she said. “The nation, and indeed the world, is becoming more aware of child sexual abuse, so it seems the perfect time for us to join in and prevent more abuse.”
Two of Mammoth’s prominent citizens were arrested on suspicion of child sex abuse earlier this year. Two years ago, a long time Mammoth day care provider, Guadalupe “Lupe” Almaguer, was sentenced to life in prison after it was discovered he had been molesting at least four children in his care for many years, with an estimate of his additional victims numbering in the dozens to hundreds.
The class will be offered Dec. 5.
According to the nationally recognized program, “Stewards of Children,” our children need help, Knowles said.
“Think about it. It is unrealistic to expect a 6-year-old to fend off sexual advances from an adult relative,” Knowles said. “A 6-year-old cannot recognize sexual advances for what they are, and a 6-year-old has been taught to ‘mind’ adults who are authority figures. It is impractical to think that a 6-year-old can or even should protect himself in this situation.
According to Knowles, the same logic applies to young adults as well.
“We strap children into car seats, we walk children across busy streets, and we ask our teenagers questions about where they are going and who they will be with, all to keep them safe. Adults should also be responsible for protecting children from sexual abuse.”
Knowles recently completed a nationally recognized child sexual abuse prevention training program called “Stewards of Children.”
The “Stewards of Children” program is the only nationally available program proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes, and change child-protective behaviors,” she said. “This revolutionary program is for any responsible adult who cares about the welfare of children.”
The class will be held in the evening at Mammoth Hospital. Knowles hopes the class is valuable to community members and said she will be expanding the class in 2013, offering it to groups or organizations.
“These programs are valuable to children,” she said. “The skills learned by children in these programs have thwarted some abductions and sexual assaults. However, we must not fall into a trap of thinking that these skills are the only protection children need,” she said.
Adults must take full responsibility for the safety of children, she said.
IF YOU GO:
What: Stewards of Children, From Darkness to Light training is for any responsible adult who cares about the protection of children such as parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, and adults who work in youth serving organizations.
When: Wednesday, Dec. 5, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Mammoth Hospital
Cost: $15. Space is limited, please register soon.
Contact: Donna Lisa-Knowles at 760-914-1797 or email her at DL@QNET.COM  or go to D2L.org for more information.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN:
Facts about the problem of child sexual abuse
The types of situations in which child sexual abuse might occur
Simple, effective strategies for protecting children from sexual abuse
The importance of talking about the prevention of sexual abuse with children and other adults
Information about what to say or do if a child or young adult discloses to you that they have been sexually abused