With Increased Risk of Abuse for FL Students During COVID-19, Local Non-profit Recommends Live Streaming, Online Curriculum For School Districts

The Monique Burr Foundation for Children is encouraging schools to present the MBF Child Safety Matters® and MBF Teen Safety Matters® lessons remotely to educate and protect children and teens from all types of bullying, abuse and victimization. File photo.

JACKSONVILLE, FL – Students across Florida are experiencing an unprecedented situation of online learning from home. The perception is that most children are considering this an extended spring break. However, the reality is many students consider school their “safe place” and are now living day and night in a home with increased stress and an increased risk for abuse. Whether it’s a parent, relative, neighbor or close friend, perpetrators now have greater accessibility to kids. Increased rates of abuse and exploitation of children have occurred during previous public health emergencies like COVID-19. Unfamiliar caregivers may also put children at a higher risk of sexual abuse, exploitation or physical abuse. In addition, children are spending an increased amount of time online exposing them to online predators, cyber-bullying, and other digital dangers. UNICEF is urging governments to ensure the safety and well-being of children amidst the intensifying socioeconomic fallout from the disease.  

The Monique Burr Foundation for children, effective immediately, is encouraging schools to present the MBF Child Safety Matters® and MBF Teen Safety Matters® lessons remotely to educate and protect children and teens from all types of bullying, abuse and victimization. MBF programs are evidence-based and evidence-informed and are currently being used in 67 counties in nearly 2,500 schools across Florida, 23 other states, and 3 countries. 

Here are the facts: 

  • More than 3 million children are abused in the US every day.
  • Approximately 90% of sexual abusers are known to the child, such as family members, family friends, babysitters, or neighbors.
  • 30% of all child sexual abuse is perpetrated by an older or more powerful youth.

While Florida school districts find themselves in a unique situation of developing curriculum conducive to online learning, MBF is providing school districts support with two options to implement their prevention education curriculum during a time when students are at greater risk of abuse.

MBF Facilitators can:

  1. Record MBF Child Safety Matters® or MBF Teen Safety Matters® lessons to distribute to students.
  2. Teach the MBF Child Safety Matters® or MBF Teen Safety Matters® lessons via live stream.

“The effects of COVID-19 on Florida schools is overwhelming,” shared Lynn Layton, President of Monique Burr Foundation, “We know there are children across the state who will now be at an increased risk of abuse because of this stressful situation. MBF wants to provide a way to give these children the tools they need to help keep them safe. We have already received calls from facilitators wanting to do this so we are happy to help. But the reality is many schools were not using prevention programs before this pandemic and we want them to understand the critical need for it now. We must maintain a high standard of safety to protect our children during this pandemic and schools need to act quickly.”

MBF also provides parents with resources through the MBF Child Safety Matters® app and on www.MBFPreventionEducation.org which houses resources, and safety briefs, including how to discuss sensitive topics with your child. The MBF website also provides four professional development courses on human trafficking, sexual abuse, cyber-bullying and digital safety, and recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect.

“The hallmark of MBF Programs is that they have always been practical and easy for schools to implement in the classroom. We are now allowing the lessons to be adapted to the new virtual classrooms students suddenly find themselves in. It is our hope that schools will take advantage of this opportunity today to protect their students,” said Layton.

To learn more about implementing the programs contact MBF at [email protected] or 904-642-0210. 

The Monique Burr Foundation for Children (MBF) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1997 by Edward E. Burr in honor of his late wife, Monique Burr, a devoted child advocate. MBF Prevention Education Programs, including MBF Child Safety Matters® for elementary schools and MBF Teen Safety Matters® for middle and high schools, MBF Athlete Safety Matters® for minor athletes, as well as MBF After School Safety Matters™, for after-school programs and youth-serving organizations, are evidence-based and evidence-informed primary prevention programs that educate and empower children and all relevant adults with information and strategies to prevent, recognize and respond appropriately to bullying, cyber-bullying, digital dangers, the four types of child abuse (physical, emotional, sexual and neglect) and exploitation. MBF programs have been delivered to more than 3.5 million children by 3,500 facilitators since 2010. For more information, visit www.mbfpreventioneducation.org.

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