Friday, October 12, 2012

BULLY at the Saratoga Film Forum

I’m really committed to community level change. So many of our prevention efforts focus on helping individuals to make changes, but I think working to get communities to make changes is far more effective. So last night I was thrilled to be sitting in a room with 40 people of all ages who attended the Saratoga Film Forum’s showing of the film BULLY. All these people were there because they want to find solutions to this critical problem that affects our schools.

There are two more chances to see the film this weekend. Make time… go see it! It’s a powerful insider’s view of how bullying affects our youth. As an adult, the big wake-up call for me was hearing from youth (those in the movie as well as local youth who attended the discussion panel after the movie) that kids don’t trust that if they tell adults about bullying that we’ll do anything to help (and sometimes they feel that way because of experience). If I took nothing away from the movie, it’s that a kid being bullied is so vulnerable and we  adults need to  listen better and act. This isn’t a pretty topic, so at times the movie is graphic.... and heart wrenching.  I saw some parents attended with their kids; what a great way to really open those lines of communication about what happens when our kids aren't with us; let's face it, that's most of their waking hours. I also spoke with couples who attended together. They said the movie really got them having an in-depth conversation about this subject. Great! And I also heard that some local schools are encouraging their teachers to watch the movie, because they want to do more to eliminate harassment and discrimination in our schools.
After each showing, there’s a panel discussion. Last night a courageous 8th grader told the intensely personal story about how it felt to be bullied and cyber-bullied throughout 7th grade.  Another  eight grader has been working toward social change by assisting in creating anti-bullying messages in his school. I wish I could attend again tonight as the panel will be presenting anti-bullying strategies.
It’s a busy weekend for everyone, but carve out a couple of hours this weekend to attend BULLY. It will make a difference for a child right here in our community.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Saratoga Springs City Center Goes Purple... Why?

Saratoag Springs City Center goes purple for Domestic Vioelnce Awareness Month

One quick look in my closet and it’s clear I’m partial to the color purple. Why? Purple has long symbolized the effort to end abuse in relationships, standing for courage, honor and survival. October is a time to raise awareness of domestic violence – to get everyone talking about “purple” as a way to open a conversation about domestic violence, and to let victims know they’re not alone.
Each year, DVRC organizes a Color ME Purple awareness campaign. When I alone wear purple . I look like a woman who likes the color purple. But when many people wear purple: purple dresses, purple ties, purple scarves, purple awareness ribbons… it makes a statement. It conveys that this is a community that cares about safe relationships.  Throughout October I encounter people who say, "I’m wearing purple today"; and more importantly  they’re talking about why they’re wearing purple. It's heartwarming to how much our community cares about ending realtionship abuse.
But I was blown away when two nights ago I saw a really big purple statement. I was leaving work at 7:30 and the City Center was magnificently illuminated in purple. WOW! Now that’s Color ME Purple!
And later this month on October 30, the City Center is the location of DVRC’s 30th anniversary recognition event, where we’ll be honoring 2 individuals and 2 organizations that have had a transformational impact on DVRC throughout the agency’s 30 year history. Look for more posts in the next 2 weeks about these amazing supporters.

And please  join us for our 30th anniversary event:

Leadership Saratoga
Soroptimist International of  Saratoga County
Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney Lyn Murphy
Home Instead's NYS Senior Heroes 2012 Awardee Katharine Winderlin
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
6:00pm - 8:30pm
Saratoga Springs City Center
We hope you'll join us to honor the dedication of all those who have assisted victims of domestic and sexual abuse AND share in our vision to reach and earlier serve all friends, neighbors, family members, and coworkers in need of our help.  
Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and beverages
Tickets are $75 per person; $35 of each ticket is tax deductible
RSVP to DVRC  518-583-0280
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Wear your PURPLE. Help us END domestic violence in Saratoga County.




Wednesday, October 10, 2012

When Teaching Our Kids Isn't Enough

In the wake of the Sandusky conviction, I think we all have to shake our heads in disbelief that children could be used and violated in such a way by someone in whom we placed such trust. That Sandusky founded his charity Second Mile, with a mission to help at-risk kids, but instead preyed upon these vulnerable children is appalling. Unfortunately, all too often sex offenders who prey upon children aren’t the villainous masked stranger we’d expect. They are often well known to the parents, respected, and trusted. They use this trust and easy access to the kids to groom them (i.e. prey on the child’s vulnerabilities and ‘pave the way’ before sexually violating them).  In a  study  :
· 46% of sexual predators were family members
· 48% were well known to the family (friend of parent 26%, trusted person in authority such as clergy, teacher, coach 22%), but a mere
· 5% were strangers. (Huot 1999)
Sexual predators are often rational and calculating in how to gain parental trust and access to the child. Historically we’ve focused our prevention efforts on educating children (e.g. good touch/bad touch programs.) Studies indicate that these strategies are insufficient: 
·“Most children do not know, remember or feel empowered to try prevention strategies.”
·Child focused sex abuse prevention should be our “last focus of prevention.”
·We need to “make prevention a national priority where the burden of safety is shifted from children to adults.“  (Kaufman et al 1999)

Sexual abuse of children; it’s something we don’t even want to imagine… but it happens. For more information onwhat parents can do to keep their children safe