Thursday, March 23, 2017

Child Abuse Affects Every Demographic



Child Abuse Affects Every Demographic - Children's Program Helps Build Community Resilience.


April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, where we can bring awareness to the many families in our community that are working towards having healthy relationships. The struggles that every family faces vary by circumstance, and there is no big book on how to parent your child. 
Child abuse is such a heavy term, and many people don't know what it truly encompasses. It includes physical, emotional, and verbal abuse, and neglect. Most often, people are not intentionally trying to harm their children, but they may not know that hitting is physical abuse, or maybe they had never seen a healthy relationship with their parents or family and they are following what they learned.       

Tahoe SAFE Alliance staff, school staff, child care providers, law enforcement, health care providers, and many more people are mandated to report any stories or witnessing of child abuse to CPS. Once a report is made, we as reporters have no control over what happens next. Often, people are scared to disclose or to consider what might happen with involvement of CPS. I spend a lot of time explaining to families what a response from CPS might look like, and that their focus is on safety and that they can help the family with safety planning and parenting skills.
At Tahoe SAFE Alliance, our services are voluntary. When a family engages in services, an amazing community response happens. We all work together to help them understand healthy relationships and healthy family responses. Any time Tahoe SAFE Alliance is working with another agency, we get consent from the person to share their information and work collaboratively; it is entirely their decision. We provide education to a family or individual about healthy relationships, the effects of domestic violence on kids, and will have informal conversations about coping and parenting skills. 
We also provide individual therapy to children and survivors of domestic violence, legal and educational advocacy, and help coordinate and make referrals, and we offer many more services to survivors of domestic violence. Child abuse affects every demographic. What each of us can do is model healthy behaviors, ask for help if we feel we need it, and report any abuse we see or hear about.  All of it builds resilience in our kids and our community. 

Penny Morris
Children's Program Manager
Tahoe SAFE Alliance

Friday, February 17, 2017

Healthy Relationships Trending



When it comes to parenting, there are those important topics typically addressed with children and teenagers. We all remember them well. But in the growing web of talks about alcohol, drugs, economy, self-responsibility, teen dating violence doesn’t usually make the list. Growing up, we remember the big topics like alcohol and drugs were easy to approach but conversations around dating were not. Most parents fumbled around searching for the right words when it came to dating, which we can mostly laugh about now!

You might be asking yourself, in this day and age where our society is raising strong independent women and self-assured sensitive men, how can it be possible that teen dating violence is still a problem? To start, the idea that strong-willed individuals couldn't possibly experience abuse or that victims are only exclusive to women are thoughts that still stand strong today. It’s still a problem because girls shouldn't walk home alone at night and boys will be boys. It’s still a problem because prevention efforts in school are a relatively new concept. It’s still a problem because victims are shamed for coming forward. Those stigmas are powerful, and many adults today feel like they know the issue without the education necessary to fully understand. When you break down the reality of this silent epidemic, you'll began to see why teen dating violence should be added to the list of must-have conversations with youth today. 

When assessing whether your teen might be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, educating yourself on the issue is step one. Since February is Teen Dating Violence awareness month, what better time to do that then now? Teenagers don’t want to admit that they need you during this confusing time and will often result to peer advice to get them through. Some of us can remember what that looked like- “You can’t get pregnant in a hot tub.” Insert hand to forehead emoji. 

Thankfully with numerous prevention programs scattered throughout the U.S., healthy relationships and knowing your rights has become the "in" thing. True story! And the numerous campaigns that spread the mission are full of shiny tactics that help make the movement comfortable and include challenging culture norms in media, taking a hard look at sexual consent, and tools equipped to intervene when someone witnesses abusive behaviors. A major barrier however is the ability for teenagers to assess at-risk behaviors before the abuse happens.  

It's natural to feel angry or frustrated with the situation, but empowering your teen will ultimately be the key advantage in setting up your family for success. With prevention programs in schools on the rise, continuing efforts at home is crucial. Prevention efforts only have the capacity to get the ball rolling, and the trick is to understand how, as parents, you can continue the education at home. Prevention efforts, like the programs at Tahoe SAFE Alliance, include doing one presentation a year which simply isn’t going to cut it. National Public Radio published an article regarding the importance of starting these conversations earlier than you would expect- To Prevent Sexual Assault, Schools and Parents Start Lessons Early. As the word prevention implies, the idea is to stop teen dating violence before it happens. Apart from factors that we don’t have control over, there’s still an immense amount of room for growth in this area. Recognizing that the problem does happen in your community is a major step in the right direction. Feeling a little overwhelmed? Check out some of these online resources that will help boost your confidence and get the conversation started! 

·         joinonelove- created fun animation skits that show what is healthy and unhealthy
·         BecauseI Love You... is a very powerful PSA also put on by joinonelove.org that shows how charming abuse can be.
·         WarningSigns- this excellent guide breaks down warning signs and even approaches whether your teen might be an abuser

Teen dating violence is not an after school special. Violence doesn’t only happen in the form of physical harm. It is often discreet, charming, and hidden behind some very powerful emotions that, when not understood, can appear to look like love. As a unified community we can make the difference. Tahoe SAFE Alliance Community Education and Prevention Program is present in nearly every school in the north Tahoe and Truckee area. To find out when we’ll be presenting at your children’s school and learn more about what we’re addressing, feel free to contact us directly and we’d love to share that information with you. Contact the Prevention Program Manager at trisha@tahoesafealliance.org or call 775-298-0010.

Christina Vaughn
Prevention Educator
Tahoe SAFE Alliance

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

One Billion Rising Revolution



One Billion Rising…really…one billion?  That’s right, 1 in 3 (or one billion) women and girls across the globe will be beaten or raped in their lifetime. 

So now one billion rise up each year and stand against the violence! The One Billion Rising campaign began in 2013 as a worldwide creative dance protest with Eve Enzler (creator of the Vagina Monologues) at the helm.  Although the campaign has morphed into various events worldwide, North Tahoe’s One Billion Rising has held true to its roots by gathering in downtown Truckee and dancing in solidarity to end violence against women.  

For the past 3 years, hundreds of men, women and children have showed up to participate by joining in the flash mob, holding signs, cheering and supporting their community! The excuses you don’t know how to dance or don’t know this specific dance don’t fly around here.  If you care about the safety of your world, your community, your friends, your family, then come to the Truckee Train Depot at 3:30pm sharp Tuesday, February 14th! Dancing is encouraged, but optional, and you can learn the dance ahead of time at Inner Rhythms dance studio on February 12th, or online.  

Dancing in unison can be visually, individually, spiritually and organizationally empowering, but don’t let two left feet get in your way of connecting with your community and taking action!  Take 10 minutes out of your Valentine’s Day and be part of something bigger, something happening all around the world on the same day, something that shows you care about ending violence.  Take a step toward making a difference in the world, and be one of the One Billion Rising!

Trisha Baird
Prevention Program Manager
Tahoe SAFE Alliance