Groups team up for awareness walk

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Someone needs to stand up for victims, say members of a local organization dedicated to preventing domestic violence.

On average, 400 to 500 Moffat County residents report cases of domestic violence to Advocates Crisis Support Services per year, said Karen Aragon, youth services and volunteer coordinator for the organization.

It's alarming facts such as these that reinforce the seriousness of domestic violence, she said. Later this month, Crisis Support Services and a local teen advocacy group hope to shed light on the problem.

On May 21, teens involved in Preventing Relationship Violence through Educ--ating and Nurturing Teens (PReVENT), a violence prevention program designed by and for Moffat County teenagers, will participate in the Walk Against Violence and Sexual Assault.

The walk, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., will stretch from Craig City Park to the Moffat County Courthouse. The public is invited to participate.

"We're hoping to get a big crowd to go with us to support us," Aragon said.

A rally featuring teen and adult speakers will take place at the courthouse. This is the sixth year that PReVENT and Crisis Support Services have organized the walk.

PReVENT teens and Aragon gave an anti-violence presentation Tuesday morning to seventh-graders at Craig Middle School. Aragon said the walk, like the presentation, is important in limiting future cases of abuse.

"The kids wanted to do something that shows how strongly they believe in violence prevention," Aragon said. "The kids really put a lot of effort and thought into it. They take it seriously. I'm really blessed to work with such a great group."

Aragon said 396 victims of domestic violence and sexual assault were counseled by advocates from Crisis Support Services in 2005. So far in 2006, 126 victims have reported cases of assault.

Equally troubling is the number of teens who perpetrate such crimes, Aragon said. Thirty-five percent of all sexual assaults reported in the county are committed by people younger than 18.

"People need to know about it, and not many do," PReVENT member JoJo La said.

"Somebody needs to stand up for (the victims)," member Amanda Wilson said.

For more information about the walk and rally, call Aragon at Advocates Crisis Support Services at 824-9709.

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