By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Educators promote prevention through child abuse awareness

News-Register file photo
News-Register file photo

The McMinnville-based center, serves all of Yamhill County, helps young victims of abuse and teaches people of all ages how to avoid, prevent and stop additional abuse.

These days, “we know it’s happening, but we still need to do more,’ said Angie Gonzalez, prevention education teen outreach coordinator.

“What do we do if it happens? Where do we go to report it?” she said. Most importantly, “How do we prevent it?”

Education is key, she said.

And April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, is a good time for starting that education by raising awareness of the problem and teaching people what they can do about it.

Gonzalez works with a team of educators at Juliette’s House, including Colman Crocker. House’s adult outreach coordinator.

Crocker started out at the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence after graduating from Oregon State University. He went on to United Way’s Good 360 program before coming to Juliette’s House six months ago.

At the child abuse intervention center, he can have more “direct impact,” he said. “My passion is being helpful and being a good role model for kids.”

While he works mostly with adults, lately he’s been filling in with the Safe Schools program, which teaches safety to young students.

In Safe Schools, trainers go into classrooms to talk about safety, how to avoid being tricked, what to do about bullying or online threats and other topics.

They also teach children to find a trusted adult to whom they can talk about their concerns — someone in addition to, or sometimes instead of, their parents.

“A safe adult is not just someone who’s nice,” he said. “Abusers use that tactic, too, to draw kids in.”

“Safe adults” are those who children can really trust because they look out for their safety, he said. “We talk about what trust means.”

In addition, he said, “kids need to learn not to blame themselves,” as well.

Gonzalez, who has been with Juliette’s House for nearly two years, previously was a social worker in West Virginia.

She moved to McMinnville after meeting her husband through online gaming and getting to know him over the course of several years.

“We had many long conversations before we had a relationship,” she said. “We use technology to see each other face-to-face.”

Her own experience gives her insight into the potential problems of interacting with others through gaming and other online contact. The person you think you’re meeting online may not be truthful or benign, she said. She helps teens learn how to determine what’s real and what the motivations of the other person are.

“I can see all the negatives and the positive side,” she said.

Going to area middle and high schools, Gonzalez teaches Safety Net programs for middle and high school students and for adults, as well.

Discussions cover topics such as healthy relationships; how can you know if they are healthy or not? What are the characteristics of a good relationship? Are they isolating you, calling you names, controlling what you wear? What do you do? How do you get out of a bad relationship?

Gonzalez also talks with young people about safety online and in person. For instance, she suggests that if a teen meets someone they’ve spoken to online, they do so in a public place. They can take a friend or parent with them. And they should make sure people know where they are going and when they plan to return.

She even talks with them about making sure to keep drinks covered so no one can slip something into the liquid.

“Be aware there’s a need for safety,” she said, explaining, “Teens’ brains are not fully developed yet. I want them to start to think about their boundaries and to prevent situations from happening.”

Teens are usually fairly responsive to her messages, Gonzalez said. Some ignore her. But some tell her thank you, as well.

“I try to create an environment where they feel they can talk,” she said. “I might not see results, but I hope down the road they will think and be proactive.”

In addition to her work with youths, Gonzalez trains adults who are mandatory reporters — teachers, ministers, police officers and others who work closely with young people and who are required by law to report suspected abuse.

“Prevention. That’s why I’m here,” she said. “Prevention is needed for all ages. People need to know how they can prevent getting into situations and they need to feel they have a voice” so they can report abuse, she said.

Juliette’s House has a great program for kids who have been hurt by others. But Gonzalez said she wishes it wasn’t necessary.

She’d rather prevent abuse outright than “have to pick up the pieces later.”


- Blue pinwheels can be seen on the lawns of businesses and residences around Yamhill County. The color blue and the pinwheel are symbols of those who have been victimized by abuse.

- Wear Blue Every Friday. People can wear their own blue clothing or buy a Child Abuse Prevention Month T-shirt from the Juliette’s House website,

- Wheels & Pinwheels Motorcycle Ride, starting at 11:15 a.m. April 6, from Juliette’s House, 1075 S.W. Cedarwood Ave., McMinnville, and circling around the county. Sign in by 9:30 a.m.

- Celebrate the Children Bloom Event, a gala fundraiser, 5 to 10:30 p.m., April 27.

Many area businesses will “Go Blue” to prevent child abuse by offering specials during the month. They include Local Flow, Humble Spirit, the Common Cup, Carlton Corners, Compris Vineyard, Coldwell Banker, Mac Daddy Donuts, Chris James Cellars, Two Dogs Taphouse, Serendipity Ice Cream and the Larson House Pizzeria & Eatery.

Several cities will feature blue lights and blue ribbons on trees in business districts.

Community members can help by donating money, new stuffed animals or time; posting selfies in front of pinwheel installations.

In addition, they can attend a free training about child abuse prevention. They can request training for their organization, business or group, or attend the community training that will be held in early May at Juliette’s House.



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