Friday, May 16, 2014

Teens Taking Action

April was a busy month full of national observance and recognition days that tie into Tahoe SAFE Alliance’s mission and vision; Sexual Assault Awareness Month, National Youth Violence Prevention Week, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Denim Day and National Volunteer Appreciation Week. Incline and Truckee High Schools’ Teen Peace Projects, a youth club ran by Tahoe SAFE Alliance, did some amazing awareness and outreach to their peers to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Teen Peace Project teens at both Incline and Truckee High Schools joined together to travel to Reno to tour the Kid Kottage Kampus center where SART examinations are done.   SARTs, or Sexual Assault Response Teams, are multidisciplinary interagency teams of individuals working collaboratively to provide services for the community by offering specialized sexual assault intervention services.  These specialized services are provided by trained individuals, such as nurses, detectives and rape crisis center advocates. Debra Robison, a licensed sexual assault examiner nurse for both adult and pediatric, gave the tour. During the tour she informed the students that 155 adult and 49 children exams were conducted last year. Although the tour was a somber and eye opening experience for the high school students, they also felt some comfort that compassionate medical services for rape survivors exist in our area.

Denim Day is a yearly awareness day recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Denim Day was originally triggered by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.   This decision did not recognize that coercion, threats, and force are part of the act of rape. (For more information visit; ) The Truckee High School Teen Peace Project held a week long raffle for this one day event. They spent Monday thru Thursday passing out buttons, informing students about Denim Day and encouraging students to wear jeans on Friday.  Participatory students were entered in the raffle to win a basket full of donated prizes!

During the month of April, Teen Peace Project students at both high schools wanted to extend awareness beyond Sexual Assault during April. They chose to raise awareness in their school and amongst their peers about the need to end Sexual Harassment and the importance of Healthy Relationships. The clubs designated a week to each of the topics, and within those weeks used posters and the morning announcements to share statistics and information with the student body. 

It was inspiring to see our local youth motivated, excited and enthusiastic to participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month as well as create awareness among their peers!  It was also moving to see our local schools supportive of school-wide campaigns around the topic of Sexual Assault.  The Teen Peace Projects energy has carried over to May which is National Teen Self-Esteem Awareness month.   Check out, and like, their Facebook page to see what they’re up to (!