LAYTON -- Every 10 seconds a child somewhere in the United States is being abused, officials said.
That is why more than 300 people from Utah and surrounding states are attending the Prevent Child Abuse Utah Joining Forces Conference at Davis Conference Center in Layton.
The conference began Monday and runs until noon Wednesday, when sisters Desirae and Deondra Brown of The 5 Browns and co-founders of the Foundation for Survivors of Abuse, will speak about how they have moved from being victims to survivors. Both women were sexually abused before the age of 14 by their father, Keith Brown, who is now serving sentences at Utah State Prison.
The conference began Monday morning with Dan Powers, senior vice president and clinical director for Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County in Plano, Texas.
He challenged conference participants to be "the champions" for the children, but to remember to take care of themselves.
Many of those working with children who have been sexually abused find they cannot talk about their work with friends or family, Powers said.
Powers said even he does not talk about work at home with his wife, who is also a social worker.
And then one day he broke down crying after listening to Kelly Clarkson sing "Because of you" while he was driving in his wife's car.
"That song hit me like a brick in the head," Powers said.
Earlier that day he had sat with a 13-year-old girl who was being interviewed by a forensics interviewer. The girl's mother had "pimped her out for her meth habit," Powers said.
The song "woke me up," Powers said. "The kids need you. You're wonderful. If you don't take care of yourself, you will fall."
Powers said social workers, law enforcement, attorneys and medical staff need to remember they are part of a team. They can lean on each other when they need a break. He also gave suggestions, including to laugh often, socialize with those who have different careers, and to build a "bridge between your spirituality and work."
Powers said they also need to remember they are fighting evil.
"People who purposely hurt kids are evil," Powers said.
Powers said even though it may seem to those who work with children that they are not making a difference, "don't underestimate your role in someone's life. What you do is changing lives."
Prevent Child Abuse Utah Joining Forces Conference
Open to the public.
Today, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to noon.
Davis Conference Center, 1651 N. 700 West, Layton.
Registration at the door. Cost is $25 for one workshop, $125 for all day Tuesday and Wednesday.
Luncheon on Wednesday is $25 for those who are registered or $40 for nonconference attendees.
For more information, go to www.preventchildabuseutah.org/.