For the next few weeks, the Women’s Center of Tidewater Community College is leading a conversation about child-abuse prevention on all four campuses.
Starting on Monday, Sept. 19, the Women’s Center has partnered with Stop Abuse Powered by Spectrum Puppets, a Virginia Beach-based organization, to bring a marionette show and advocate training to children and young professionals interested in working in fields where they may encounter child abuse.
The marionette show is performed by Stop Abuse Powered by Spectrum Puppets, which was formed 30 years ago to “prevent child sexual abuse through education, detection and referral,” its website says.
In the show “Simon Says Just Tell,” a young girl gathers the courage to tell her mother that she’s being abused by her mother’s fiance. Simon, the “inner voice,” helps her make the decision to speak up for herself, said Gretchen Edwards-Bodmer, leadership development coordinator at the Women’s Center.
“It doesn’t use specific words, it just talks about how what he’s doing to you is wrong,” Edwards-Bodmer said.
The organization, based in Virginia Beach, is run by Regina Marscheider. The performance has won an Emmy Award and led to the arrest and incarceration of 158 child molesters in Hampton Roads alone, according to the organization. It’s performed throughout the country.
A representative from child protective services will be present at all presentations for children who may want to talk — a “safety net,” Edwards-Bodmer said.
“It was presented in a very palatable way for kids,” Edwards-Bodmer added.
According to Stop Abuse Powered by Spectrum Puppets, one in four girls and one in seven boys will have experienced sexual abuse by age 18. Only 10 percent of victims report the abuse, the organization says on its website.
Students hoping to pursue fields that deal with children, such as criminal justice and childhood development, are also encouraged to attend the event and work with Marscheider.
“This is an opportunity for us to give students in related fields a professional component,” Edwards-Bodmer said. It’s a chance for students to learn about how to talk to children who may have been abused and identify warning signs.
“We had a couple students who were parents,” Edwards-Bodmer said. “It’s not just about talking to the kids — it’s also the critical piece for TCC students and having them be professionals in these fields.”
The event drew about 15 children between the ages of three and five and about 30 students at the Chesapeake campus’ event.
The goal of the Women’s Center, Edwards-Bodmer said, is to enable students to gain empowerment, develop healthy relationships and focus on their careers. She said this event helped hone all these skills.
The event will be at Norfolk’s Student Center on the fifth floor Sept. 21, Virginia Beach’s Student Center at K320 Sept. 26 and The Forum in the A-Building in Portsmouth on Oct. 3, all at 10 a.m.
Kate Mishkin: 757-490-2750 or firstname.lastname@example.org