Youth Services joins a nationwide awareness campaign this week as Utah’s agency representing National Safe Place. You may have seen the black and yellow signs in public locations such as libraries and fire stations. But what is Safe Place and why is it important for youth?
What is Safe Place?
Safe Place is a program that started at a YMCA in Louisville Kentucky. The idea behind it is to create a safety net of community partners and resources for youth in crises. Salt Lake City has been participating in this program since 1994 and has over 80 Safe Place sites.
Teens can text the word SAFE and their location to 69866 and get a text back that tells them their closest safe place. When a teen walks into a Safe Place site someone will contact Youth Services and help assess the situation and what needs to be done to assure the youth’s safety. If needed, Youth Services will even go to pick up the youth and bring them back to our Juvenile Receiving Center.
Why is Safe Place Needed?
There are many reasons why a child or teen might need a safe place – whether it’s problems at school or with their friends. Sometimes the problems can even start at home.
One teen girl was brave enough to share her story about why she needed a Safe Place and how it could have helped her:
“When I was in grade school my mom was always working or on dates and I was left with a houseful of older siblings and friends. One time she was gone and I was jumping rope when I had accidently hit my sister’s friend in the arm. She told my sister that I had hit her and my sister gave her permission to smack me around and physically hurt me. They all laughed as I cried and hid. Later I was still hiding and I heard them talking about getting faded and partying there which scared me. I left and started walking around neighborhoods and the park and ended up sleeping in a park bathroom. I was scared. When I returned the next day no one realized I was gone.”
This situation would have been different if this youth would have known where her closest safe place was. Please help us get the word out by educating the young people in your life about what safe place is and where they are located in your community.
Do you think Safe Place is needed in your community? Share your thoughts here!