Bivona Child Advocacy Center on how it teaches kids to recognize abuse and inappropriate behavior

Stephanie Duprey
Updated: April 15, 2021 11:13 PM
Created: April 15, 2021 09:53 PM

GREECE, N.Y. (WHEC) — Bivona Child Advocacy Center works with eight school districts in Monroe County, Hilton being one of them. Its "Prevention Education Program" focuses on teaching students and staff how to recognize signs of abuse.

The advocacy center says they've been doing virtual sessions with student's but with the recent investigation in the Hilton Central School District, they've been seeing those students in person.

"Now more than ever, we know that this work is incredibly important,” Executive Director Deb Rosen said.

Bivona works with kids in grades as young as kindergarten. Rosen says they work in compliance with the New York State law, Erin’s Law, which requires education about body safety and the risk of sexual abuse to children in public schools.

Part of what they do is reassure and teach students that "their bodies are their own" and that they get to say what makes them feel comfortable or uncomfortable. Bivona encourages kids to figure out who their "safe adults" are.

"Pay attention to what makes them feel uncomfortable, so if there is uncomfortable or unsafe conduct even happening within a trusted relationship we encourage the child to speak out speak their truth to another safe adult,” Rosen said.

Rosen added that they do virtual and in-person training. With the current investigation concerning the Hilton community, they are all in person right now. She says parents should be taking extra interest in their child's behaviors especially if they change dramatically. In some cases, children don't recognize abuse until they reach their adult years.

We heard from a man who says he was touched inappropriately by Kirk Ashton nearly twenty years ago when he was a young student in Rush-Henrietta. 

Chad Morrison told News10NBC he wishes he'd understood what was happening at the time he experienced it.

"I always thought it was my anxiety and him calming me down, but as I got older it wasn't like a 'good job' or a pat on the back it was more like slowly rubbing my back and the back of my neck and like at the time you just trust your teacher and as you get older you realize that teachers don't really do that,” Morrison said.

Rosen added that when you see allegations like this within an institution, the concerns can be widespread. She says this could be the beginning of this investigation, not the end.

Police believe there may be more victims.

If you have any information on this case, investigators are asking you to call State Police Headquarters at 585-935-7800.

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