radKids empowers youth

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Andali Johnson and Duane Thurston demonstrate moves to escape a frontal attack by an assailant.  Submitted Photo

Andali Johnson and Duane Thurston demonstrate moves to escape a frontal attack by an assailant. Submitted Photo

The reported number of children who suffer at the hands of both adults and peers in this nation on a yearly basis are staggering.

It’s only through programs such as radKids, a child educational safety and empowerment program, that children have a fighting chance of stopping and/or preventing themselves from continuing to be or becoming victims of abuse.

radKids is a program that has been available to children in Mesquite for the past 10 years thanks to the program sponsor Mesquite Constable Duane Thurston and numerous adult volunteers who have become certified instructors of the radKids program.

Thurston started with the program when a friend of his from the Sheriffs’ Department urged him to do so. After he had taken the training he began contacting the Mesquite and Bunkerville elementary schools and enlisted the help of teachers and principals in starting up the program. His wife is also a certified instructor and they, along with a group of community volunteers, have dedicated themselves to the training and work involved in raising funds, applying for grants and gathering equipment needed for the well-run and growing program.

They were very successful in the first two years offering the program to every elementary school child in Mesquite and Bunkerville. With all of the elementary students being trained they were able to begin offering the program in just the summer to help train the smaller children and those who were new to the area.

Duane Thurston and Rod Frieling are dressed in the Red Man assailant suits.  They are two of the original instructors of the Mesquite radKids program.  Submitted Photo

Duane Thurston and Rod Frieling are dressed in the Red Man assailant suits. They are two of the original instructors of the Mesquite radKids program. Submitted Photo

With the aid of grants and donations they have been able to purchase the much needed safety equipment for the children and instructors or Red Men (assailants) as they call themselves. Over the course of the past ten years they have helped hundreds of community children learn how to defend themselves in many situations.

One in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. An estimated 702,000 U.S. children were documented victims of maltreatment in 2014 and approximately 1,580 of these children died from abuse or neglect. Nationally over six million children come to the attention of child protective services each year according to a Children’s Bureau 2014 report. Four children die every day in the U.S. because of abuse.

These are the staggering numbers that keep the Mesquite volunteers committed to and passionate about training radKids. They want to see that these situations don’t happen to the children in their community, to your children.

radKids training includes bullying prevention, stopping predators, including physical resistance strategies against abductions, personal touch/personal space safety and ‘out and about’ safety and awareness.

Sexual abuse, sexual predator and child abductions numbers have continued to increase. Over 58,000 children were sexually abused last year. Of reported child abuse cases 8.3 percent were sexual abuse. Of people who sexually abuse a child 34 percent are family members. Of people who sexually abuse children 96 percent are male and 76.8 percent of people who sexually abuse children are adults.

radKids instruction is all taught ‘through the eyes of a child’ so the children can relate and understand what is being taught to them in the simplest and most effective way and the lessons stick.

Since its inception radKids has successfully:

radKids graduation class of 2016. Submitted Photo

radKids graduation class of 2016. Submitted Photo

Trained 250,000 children in the radKIDS® personal Empowerment Safety education program.

More than 4,800 community-based instructors have been trained in over 46 states and Canada.

Children threatened with abduction used their skills and returned safely to their families 96 percent of the time. Hundreds of children spoke up and got the help they needed to stop the abuse.

There are 325,000 children who are at risk of becoming victims of commercial child sexual exploitation each year. Caregiver alcohol or drug abuse is a child abuse risk factor putting kids at much higher risk for being abused. The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14 years old and the average age for boys is 11 to 13 years old.

The scariest part is that these figures are considered underestimates as child maltreatment is underreported.

Thurston, Hoff and the rest of the Mesquite radKids volunteers want to wipe the city of Mesquite off of every list that contributes to those numbers. They are committed to making sure these statistics in Mesquite are next to, if not, zero.

 

Comments

  1. Thank you to our sponsors….The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the use of an air-conditioned building, Nevada Child Seekers, Mesquite Constable Office, Smith’s Food & Drug, Final Details and parents who donated time and support.

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