by Emily Hammer
“1 in 10 kids will be sexually abused before the age of 18. 6 out of 10 kids who are abused don’t report it because 9 out of 10 times, the child is abused by someone they know or trust.” – Joshua Alcorn, Chief Operating Officer for the Beau Biden Foundation.
It’s strongly apparent that Beau Biden, Former Attorney General of Delaware, who passed away at the end of May in 2015, had a tremendous impact on those who surrounded him. His passion for spreading awareness on the importance of child abuse prevention in the community has inspired his colleagues, family and friends to respectfully continue his efforts in getting this message across to as many people as possible.
“My time with Beau gave me the opportunity to see the vision of a man who saw a world free of child abuse,” says Patricia Dailey Lewis, Beau Biden Foundation Executive Director, as she reflects on her time working with Beau. “It’s a great honor for me to be able to continue his mission.”
“I worked for Beau in a political capacity for two and a half years before he passed away,” said Joshua Alcorn, Chief Operating Officer. “I traveled the country with him and watched him interact with donors and activists. Child abuse prevention has become a passion for me because I watched Beau talk about it and saw the passion that he had.”
According to Claudine Malone, Beau Biden Foundation Program Coordinator, their dedicated staff has worked with approximately over 200 various organizations since the foundations’ opening in June of 2015. “We’ve identified four major areas that we want to train initially; educators, medical personnel, youth serving organizations & law enforcement,” explains Malone.
Their work does not stop at Delaware. They’ve also entered and taken action in surrounding states such as Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Washington D.C., and even down south in Florida. “The creep has begun,” says Claudine Malone. “We’ve been welcomed with open arms by many schools in instructing kids about online safety, cyber bullying, and posting things that could be damaging to them in the future.”
The topic of child abuse isn’t known to be a comfortable, everyday conversation, but the Beau Biden Foundation team wants it to be. “9 out of 10 children are abused or sexually abused by someone they know and trust,” adds Joshua Alcorn on one of Beau’s presentations on child abuse, “That’s a hard thing to talk about. It’s a hard thing to hear, and it made people a little uncomfortable. That was the point.
The Foundation’s newest program was launched in September of 2017. The Shield of Protection initiative is considered by the Foundation as the key to help them grow nationally. “It’s our opportunity to help youth-serving organizations of all sizes by assessing their current child protection procedures and programming. We have developed a list of standard and best practices and worked with these youth-serving organizations to assess where they are and how they can improve upon the practices they already have,” Joshua Alcorn said. The Beau Biden team gets their foot in the door, assesses what’s currently happening then immediately develops an action plan.
The staff members are determined to educate everyone on child abuse prevention and take a 360-degree approach to ensuring that every preventative aspect is covered during their programs and trainings. In addition to the Shield of Protection initiative, they offer internet safety training and their Stewards of Children Program which are both facilitated online and face-to-face.
Stewards of Children is their primary program. “It’s a two and half hour evidence informed child sexual abuse prevention training for adults. We believe it’s an adult’s responsibility to stand up and speak out for children,” says Alcorn, Chief Operating Officer.
“It’s so powerful when you get done doing a training, and someone in the audience comes up to you,” Malone states on the defining impact that their trainings have. “I had a 72-year-old gentleman come up to me and disclose that he was sexually abused as a child. It’s unbelievable that he’s never had this type of training to go to before.”
The Foundation relies on the support of their volunteers. Dominique Oppenheimer, the Foundation’s volunteer coordinator, started working with the foundation in September of last year. Dominique shares her opinion on the foundation’s child abuse prevention tactics. “I think prevention is key and so important because often we have this reactive response to abuse saying “oh this child was abused, now what do we do?” We don’t want to turn our backs on the prevention side.”
Beau Biden believed and knew that every child was capable of courage, but that courage without confidence does not inspire action. Dominique Oppenheimer explains her thoughts on that belief, “I think kids can be extremely resilient and what we want to focus on is empowering adults to help children be courageous, because it isn’t the child’s responsibility to protect themselves. We want to empower adults to assist them in that process.”
The Delaware 87ers hosted the Erie Bayhawks at home on Saturday, January 20th. The game was sold out for Beau Biden Foundation Night, and the players wore uniquely-designed Beau Biden Foundation jerseys. The jerseys were auctioned off during the game with all proceeds benefitting the Beau Biden Foundation.
For the second year in a row, Vice President Joe Biden attended the event and addressed the crowd at halftime speaking on behalf of the Beau Biden Foundation. “Thank you for helping the foundation, getting involved with it, taking a look at it,” as President Biden shows gratitude, “We’re saving kids’ lives. And thank you guys so so much for your support.”
The Sevens partnership with the Beau Biden Foundation effectively demonstrates each organizations’ commitment to serving and having a remarkable impact on their community. “We’re incredibly proud of our partnership with the Sevens. The team that you guys have assembled. Your commitment to the community is refreshing,” expresses Joshua Alcorn. “That’s something that motivates us, that motivates you guys, and we’re particularly pleased to have gotten to know your teams as well as we have.”
Patricia Dailey Lewis, Executive Director on working with the 87ers, “We see in your staff their commitment to the community, which is really fantastic from a community wide perspective to know that there’s a business that does want to give back to the community and that does see the value of the education process.”
All donations at the Beau Biden Foundation primarily go to trainings, community events held, and expanding their reach more and more in various communities. The team that they have assembled is incredibly passionate and has proven that they will not stop spreading the word on child abuse prevention until all children are safe, shielded and protected.