Events call attention to Child Abuse Prevention Month |

Events call attention to Child Abuse Prevention Month

John Stroud
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Three events in the coming week are part of the Childhelp River Bridge Center’s efforts to raise awareness about child abuse and sexual assault.

The first is the play, “Until Someone Wakes Up,” by the Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center of Fort Collins. It will be presented during the day Friday for high school students at 10 a.m. at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale and at 1 p.m. at Yampah Mountain High School in Glenwood Springs.

There will be a performance, free and open to the public, at 7 p.m. Friday at Glenwood Springs High School. Parents are encouraged to attend the evening event with their teenagers.

The play features scenes of drama, comedy and satire, exploring the issues surrounding sexual violence, gender role socialization and healing. It is composed of a cast of mostly teens and college students, who approach the topics with a balance of sensitivity, realism and humor.

“It is Childhelp River Bridge’s intent that, through this production we can raise awareness and victim empathy, reduce the incidence of sexual violence, and give a message of hope to those who are survivors of crime,” said River Bridge Executive Director Susan Ackerman.

Established in 2008, the Childhelp River Bridge Center in Glenwood Springs provides a safe, comfortable facility for the investigation of child abuse and sexual abuse cases.

The center began organizing events around Child Abuse Prevention Month last year when it invited former Miss America and incest survivor Marilyn Van Derbur to speak.

This year’s presentation, “Surviving Sexual Molestation,” will be given by John Warnick of Denver who will be appearing at 7 p.m. Monday, April 19, at Glenwood High School for another free presentation.

For nine years – until he was 11 years old – Warnick carried the secret that he had been sexually molested by a soccer coach whom he idolized and trusted. It wasn’t until he found the courage and faith to seek and confront his molester that he told his story.

Warnick will share the experience of how his decision to go to the police and district attorney led him to participate in a sting operation that attacked a nationwide child porn network.

He and his wife have three children, and he is currently the CEO for a Special District Management Services company in Lakewood. He speaks at numerous national conferences and law enforcement trainings throughout the United States and Canada.

Ackerman points out that male victims of sexual abuse constitute an extremely under-identified, under-served, and frequently misunderstood population.

“Though sexual abuse is under-reported by both males and females, males are far less likely to disclose sexual abuse,” she said.

In 2009, Childhelp River Bridge investigated 139 cases of child sexual abuse, and 49 of the victims were males ages 7 to 12.

One other event next week will draw attention to child abuse and child safety. The Child Safety Awareness Fair takes place from 1-6 p.m. Wednesday, April 21, at the Garfield County Department of Human Services, 195 W. 14th St., across the street from City Market and next to the county fairgrounds.

There will be free food, information about keeping children safe, games and prize drawings. There will also be preschool sign-up information, a car seat safety check, and free varnishing for children’s teeth.

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