The outrage over the recent incidents of child abuse at two major, high profile university athletic departments continues to fill the national print and electronic media.
The outrage is more than justified. What is just as outrageous is that such incidents are preventable. And, prevention is a much better investment than the far more costly processes of intervention or prosecution. Families, schools, and communities need to understand that, to some extent, such abuse happens when children are not taught to protect themselves by saying No, getting away to a safe place and telling a trusted adult until they get the help they need.
As a nonprofit organization for 28 years, Open Door Theatre has been using live dramatic performances in schools to teach young children their safety rules so that they can be aware and on guard. Last school year, 4,360 children in Snohomish County attended Open Door Theatre performances at their public schools.
The dilemma is that funding for such performances has been impacted by budget challenges facing schools, counties, cities, parent organizations and foundations. Therefore, the number of performances and the number of children served by Open Door Theatre has been drastically reduced, leaving more children at risk. So, in addition to being outraged at university coaches or other perpetrators, concerned citizens and organizations can step up and provide resources that allow organizations such as Open Door Theatre to deliver their message of safety and prevention so that fewer children will be victimized. About $10 provides the funding for one child to attend a performance in his or her own school. Not a bad investment.
Open Door Theatre can be reached at 425-303-8783. Thank you for moving from outrage and fear to prevention.
Wayne Robertson, Ed. D.
Vice President, Open Door Theatre