On January 10, 2016, Palm Beach County Victim Services partnered with area agencies in an outreach program targeting sexual violence toward children in Hispanic – Guatemalan -Mayan community. The Guatemalan population is one of the underserved and marginalized populations in our community and we are increasing efforts to bring awareness, education and advocacy to this community in efforts to provide services to a broader range of Palm Beach County citizens. Participating agencies included the West Palm Beach Police Department, the Community Response Team, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse/AVDA, EL SOL, Home Safe, Survivors, St. John Fisher Catholic Church, Total MD, Chrysalis Health, Mamas Saludables/Bebe and Center for Independent Living Options/CILO. There were 300 in attendance, including approximately 100 children.
This event was aimed at preventing children from becoming victims of sexual and/or physical abuse within their homes and in the community. Participants spoke with children and parents about healthy relationships and what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors; legal versus illegal acts. Participants educated children on what a good versus bad touch is, and providing reading material (good touch/bad touch books) to children to take home. Food, games and prizes were provided as part of the event. Reading material was given to the adults to educate them and potentially prevent an offender from offending and prevent a child from becoming a victim.
Comments from some of the participants were: “This was our first day at this church. We’re so surprised to find such an outreach and blessed to have picked today to attend!”, and “How can I reach you?” “Where do I call for more information?”
The success of this event goes directly to the dedicated people who went beyond the call of duty. Our goal was to reach into the Guatemalan community to build trust, establish relationships and position ourselves to be welcome to step in with resources, education and training. Job well done!