New Beginnings Sexual Assault Support Services is promoting the Green Dot program, encouraging the entire community to do its part in actively combatting situations that could result in assault or neglect.
Through bystander intervention training, the Green Dot program engages witnesses to interrupt situations that are imminently or potentially high-risk for violence, increases self-efficacy, and provides skill building and specific strategies to increase the likelihood that trained individuals will actually intervene.
The Green Dot program is being promoted during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which takes place in April each year.
Emcee Chad Benefield spoke with various staff at New Beginnings during Thursday’s virtual Rooster Booster, when officials detailed the program as well as pointed out Kentucky’s rank as one of the most prominent states for child abuse and neglect in the country.
According to Program Specialist Breanna Smith, New Beginnings served 516 clients — including 129 children under the age of 17 — throughout the 2020 year. Smith said those at New Beginnings expect that number to increase dramatically this year with children having been out of the classroom for so long.
Smith said New Beginnings also reported 10 cases of human trafficking last year. All of the victims were children.
Prevention Coordinator Ronda Howard said the Green Dot program gives each person in the community the chance to intervene through actions or words.
“Each of us hold power as bystanders to actively prevent violence and change our community norms,” Howard said. “I think it’s important that today, we connect to the reality that people all around us have experienced these types of violence.”
One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before they turn 18, Howard said. One in three women and one in four men will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. Kentucky, she added, continues to lead the nation in child abuse and neglect.
“With numbers like these, each of us needs to do something to prevent our community members from being hurt,” Howard said.
A single red dot is just a small choice someone makes to hurt someone else, Howard said. But when enough red dots show up on the map, it shows a community supporting a culture with “unacceptable rates of violence.”
“But what if, out of all those red dots, a single green dot appears? A green dot is something we can do to stop red dots from happening,” she said. “It’s using words and actions to intervene and let someone know, ‘Violence is not OK.’”
As part of the Green Dot program, New Beginnings will offer free training to groups, businesses and organizations that want to help keep their community safe. Two organizations have received the training so far, and officials are hoping more will sign up.
“When enough of us do our part, the green dots will outnumber the red dots, and more people in our community will be heard,” Howard said. “People will stop hurting others, because they will know that, here in Owensboro, we’ve got each other’s backs.”
Click here to learn more about the Green Dot Bystander Training program in Owensboro.
By Katie Pickens, The Owensboro Times