The widespread success of the Beau Biden Foundation – proud partner of the Delaware Blue Coats – can be largely attributed to a strict adherence to its brand identity and year-round community engagement, according to the organization’s executive team. “The whole mission is to shine a bright light on child sexual abuse,” says Chief Operating Officer Joshua Alcorn. “And we’ve been working towards this every day of every month of every year.”
The Beau Biden Foundation was created to honor the life of Joseph R. “Beau” Biden, III, and continue his life’s work: ensuring that all children are free from the threat of abuse. Beau Biden served as Attorney General of Delaware from 2007-2015. The United States Army Veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star passed away in 2015. The Beau Biden Foundation was established shortly after his death to continue his crusade for the protection of children.
Members of the Foundation work tirelessly around the clock all year long, but the month of April offers a special opportunity. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. “The fact that we have a month dedicated to this allows us to shine an even brighter light on the issues,” says Alcorn.
Alcorn notes that while many past abuse scandals have gained national attention, there is often a lack of meaningful action taking place in follow ups: “In our lifetime, we jump from national abuse scandal to national abuse scandal. Wherever it has happened – is there ever any talk of prevention? Or prevention education? That’s what I think this month really helps highlight.”
The Beau Biden Foundation’s programming not only helps adults identify and prevent abuse, but also empowers them to contribute to the cause. “We think of preventing child sexual abuse in terms of a wheel. The spokes of the wheel are key constituency groups in child protection: law enforcement, educators, youth serving organizations and health care professionals. These spokes of the wheel are the faces that can truly help to prevent child abuse and offer help to abused children,” says Alcorn.
April has proved to be a busy month on many levels. “We’re working with the Wilmington City Police department to train all of their officers in child abuse prevention,” said Executive Director Patty Daily Lewis. “We trained health care professionals up in Doylestown Health in Bucks County Pennsylvania.” Furthermore, the Foundation reported more than 120 attendees at this month’s training session at the Wilmington City Police Department.
It’s important to Alcorn and Dailey Lewis that their impressions on the public are consistent and recurring. The Foundation conducts multiple visits to each site in order to reinforce messaging and ensure progress. Doylestown Health received six unique programming visits in April alone, for example.
These are huge strides for the Beau Biden Foundation, especially considering they’ve only been in existence since June 2015. Alcorn says he is most proud of the expanded partnerships and relationships his group has made in this short time. But an anticipated challenge for The Beau Biden Foundation moving forward is the human tendency to be uncomfortable discussing the subject of their mission.
“I think people don’t want to talk about things that make them feel bad,” says Alcorn. “It’s one of those things that people can’t wrap their minds around of even being a problem. It’s really easy to push child abuse under the rug and pretend it doesn’t happen – I think that’s one of the great things about this month. We’re shining a light on child sexual abuse.”
This adds to the importance of training public figures such as educators, police officers and others – the most likely conductors of these seemingly difficult conversations.
“It starts in schools, it starts in youth serving organizations, it starts with a parent who reads a story in the newspaper and wants to know what they can do to make sure it doesn’t happen to their kid,” says Lewis. “But folks need to know where to go for help. So if there’s a goal that we have for 2018, one of them is to be on people’s radar more to become synonymous with preventing child sexual abuse… the same way that the Susan G. Komen Foundation is synonymous with breast cancer research.”
The Delaware Blue Coats have used the power of basketball to promote the foundation’s cause in each of the past two seasons. On the annual Beau Biden Foundation Night, players on the team have worn specially themed Beau Biden Foundation jerseys which were then auctioned off to fans after the game. Money raised from these auctions was then donated to the Beau Biden Foundation. The ultimate highlight during both nights however, has been a visit from former Vice President Joe Biden who provided fans with inspiring, passionate speeches at halftime on the importance of child abuse prevention.
The Foundation, though, urges any and all citizens to get involved, and step one is to be trained through the Stewards of Children program.
The Stewards of Children is a detailed training designed to teach adults practical actions to prevent child sexual abuse or intervene if abuse is suspected. It features survivors who have lived through child sexual abuse as well as experts who have worked with children and families to confront abuse daily. Over 1,000,000 adults across the nation have been trained to protect children from sexual abuse through Stewards of Children. Scheduled local training sessions can be found at www.beaubidenfoundation.org. And, of course, these sessions occur throughout the year.
While Child Abuse Prevention Month allows us to shine a brighter light on child abuse prevention,” says Lewis. “It’s crucial we continue to shine a light on the subject throughout the year.”