By Teri Nehrenz
About five children die every day because of child abuse. One out of three girls and one out of five boys will be sexually abused before they reach age 18. 90 percent of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way. 68 percent are abused by a family member.
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. RAD stands for Resisting Aggression Defensively.
RADKids is a program that has been available to children in Mesquite for the past 12 years thanks to the program sponsor Mesquite Constable Duane Thurston, Dena Hoff, Denise Houston, Rod Frieling, the LDS Church and numerous adult volunteers who have become certified instructors of the RADKids program.
Thurston started with the program when a friend 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.
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.
On Wednesday, Aug. 4, Thurston and instructor Rod Frieling put on “Redman” suits while 24 elementary school children put their skills to work to show parents and friends what they’ve learned in RAD kids.
During the course of the past 10 years, they have helped more than 2,000 community children learn how to defend themselves in many situations. All children receive a certificate upon completion of the week long class.
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. Instruction is 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.
There are the staggering numbers of abuse cases 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.
Thurston, Hoff and the rest of the Mesquite radKids volunteers want to wipe the city of Mesquite off every list that contributes to those numbers. They are committed to making sure these statistics in Mesquite are next to, if not, zero.