Local residents and members of the Richmond County Sexual Awareness Response Team (S.A.R.T.) gathered outside of the Cole Auditorium on Richmond Community College’s campus recently in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (S.A.A.M.).
Students, volunteers and local law enforcement officers attended the program to show support of the effort to protect the community from sexual assault. Everyone received a teal ribbon to represent the national color for S.A.A.M.
The program began with a welcome given by Richmond County S.A.R.T. Chairperson Linda Tillman. She discussed the goal for the program was to provide effective victims response and show support for the 2013 campaign.
“Child sexual abuse affects all of us,” said Tillman. “We need to support and learn the characteristics of a healthy sexuality. The campaign’s theme for 2013 is ‘It’s Time To Talk About It.’ Thank you for being willing to come out and show your support.”
Attendees bowed their heads in a prayer led by Reverend James Smith of A.M.E. Zion, in hopes of a collaboration of parents and individuals to more effectively prevent sexual assault.
Hamlet Police Captain Scott Waters represented local law enforcement by discussing goals of The Richmond County S.A.R.T.
“We have got to put God first and come together to protect our children,” said Waters. “Our prayers and comments today will not do the job alone. Let’s attack the disease.”
Many students of Richmond Community College’s Human Service Technology program were encouraged by their instructor, Cordelia Steele, to attend. Students and interns of the program also teamed up to create a bulletin board in recognition of S.A.A.M.
“One of the things I think is very important is for my students in this program to have a sense of where the client comes from,” said Steele. “Some students may have been through a similar situation, and this can help educate them on how to deal with their own demons in order to help someone else.”
The 2013 Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign focuses on healthy sexuality and child sexual abuse prevention. The campaign provides tools and information on healthy childhood sexual development for adults to use in approaching the responsibility to protect children. Learning about healthy childhood sexual development helps adults promote positive characteristics, skills and behaviors, say program organizers. These tools support parents, communities and organizations in identifying risk factors, supporting healthy boundaries and challenging negative messages.
— Staff Writer Cassidy Odom can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 16, or by email at email@example.com.