I am excited to write to you today about the National Safe Place Program basics as well as an exciting new feature we started in the last year and our big plans for this coming year.
In 2010, 13,712 children were victims of abuse or neglect in Utah a 0.0% change from 2009. Of these children, 21.5% were neglected, 13.3% were physically abused, and 15.9% were sexually abused. The number of child victims has increased 5.1% in comparison to the number of victims in 2006. This shows a disturbing and growing trend in Utah and across the country. These numbers represent the reported cases only, so there are likely more. Some of these youth run away from home in order to escape further violence, others desperately want help, but do not know where to turn for help, or are afraid that if they do they and their family will get into trouble. National Safe Place is a resource available to the youth of Salt Lake County to help youth in these situations and any other situation in which the child feels unsafe, scared, or doesn’t know where to turn for help.
Safe Place creates a network of Safe Place locations — recreation centers, fire stations, libraries, grocery and convenience stores, Boys and Girls Clubs and other appropriate public buildings – that display the yellow and black diamond-shaped Safe Place sign. These locations extend the doors of Youth Services throughout the community. Youth can easily access immediate help wherever they are. The youth need only come into the site, ask for help, and a Safe Place representative will meet with them and help them feel safe in whatever situation they are in. In Salt Lake we have 77 sites currently in operation and more to come soon.
Last year, we rolled-out a new program TXT4Help to help youth find our locations even easier and also help those youth who may not be near enough to a site to get there. If you’re in trouble or need help, text SAFE and your current location (address/city/state) to 69866. You will receive back a text telling you where the nearest site to you is, a number to call if you cannot get there, and the option to have a live text conversation with someone who can help you.
This last March we also had the Salt Lake County Mayor, Ben McAdams, declare March 18th -24th as Salt Lake County National Safe Place Week. This exciting week was filled with outreach, site trainings, art contests and more.
This year we are also planning to welcome a few new partners to our Safe Place Network and also offer free trainings every three months to our sites employees to ensure they are being well trained and feel comfortable helping us support the youth of Salt Lake County.
The Youth Services Prevention Team has decided to make Safe Place our number one priority this year and we hope you will help us by spreading the message to all the youth in your life. Thanks for all you do.