PReVENT takes steps to battle violence

Teen group reaches out to teach residents, students

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There are many painful things a child has to learn as they grow into adulthood some are merely facts of life, while others are the dangers of the world.

The issues of sexual assault, sexual harassment, date rape and family and community violence are some things that children could face and have to be warned about.

In Moffat County, a group of students is helping to educate them.

PReVENT (Preventing Rela-tionship Violence through Educating and Nurturing Teens) program gives presentations in schools and booths at various child-related programs. PReVENT is a group of teen workers and advisors that operates under the supervision of the Advocates-Crisis Support Services in Craig.

The program began in 1994 as a way for young people to satisfy community service requirements from court decisions.

According to Karen Aragon, Youth Program Coordinator for Advocates, the teens involved wanted to expand and improve the program, seeing it as one that could be more than just filler for community service.

"From a similar project, Project PAVE, we transferred the curriculum and that gave us the groundwork for PReVENT," Aragon said. "The students involved go through 10 hours of training to begin with and then attend weekly meetings for ongoing training and discussions."

The students of PReVENT organize and perform interactive presentations for middle and high school.

The middle school presentation covers general violence and sexual harassment, while the presentation for freshman covers date rape and sexual assault prevention.

"We get our volunteers from our booth at freshman orientation just before the school year, and after both the presentations for the middle and high school," Aragon said.

PReVENT is taking on some new responsibilities this year.

"When there is a situation where Advocates comes into contact with a family with children where domestic abuse or violence is concerned, the teen advisors are available for the children who are involved or around domestic violence," Aragon said.

The focus of the group is to get a serious message across without depressing either the audience or performers, said C.J. Rugh, MCHS senior and PReVENT volunteer.

"We can't sugarcoat these issues, everyone needs to know the facts," he said. "We try to get them involved in the presentations, so they're not just sitting there. We try to keep it light, while still being clear about these serious issues."

The same goes for the group meetings. The volunteers know what they need to accomplish, but they also like to have some fun, Rugh said.

"We try not to let these subjects and issues bring us down, we try to keep ourselves up."

Rugh plans to participate in a similar group if one exists at the college level.

"This particular group has a definite gift of getting kids to ask questions and respond to the presentations," Aragon said

"I've learned a lot from my time with PReVENT. I think the whole group has, and I'd like to see more people join and keep the program strong," Rugh said. "It seems to me, personally, that the problems are getting worse not better."

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