Current Issue
The Blue Bench

Preventing Sexual Assault Among Youth

The Blue Bench, a Denver-based nonprofit, is working to eliminate sexual assault in the community.

Nationwide, 42 percent of rape victims experience their first assault before the age of 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Statistics like these are scary, but they are the reason that The Blue Bench exists.

This Denver-based nonprofit organization, founded in 1983, works to eliminate sexual assault and diminish its impact in the community. Many of its efforts to accomplish this are focused on youth.

“These statistics indicate that many of our students may be dealing with the consequences of trauma from sexual violence, which can have a detrimental impact on their education including absenteeism and lower grades,” says Susie Roman, director of prevention and education at The Blue Bench. “This makes our youth prevention programming especially critical.”

In the program, middle and high school students learn how to recognize a wide range of behaviors on the continuum of sexual violence, using interactive scenario-based activities. These programs are typically broken up into several 50 to 60 minute sessions—about the length of a class period—depending on the schedule needed for the group.

In 2017, more than 3,600 middle school and high school-age youth participated in one of The Blue Bench’s prevention programs, which Roman says is an increase of 140 percent from 2016 to 2017. “I have seen change in both knowledge and intention to support a friend or intervene in the future,” Roman says.

Roman urges the community to help by engaging in conversations about sexual assault. “One of the most important things we can do to end sexual violence is do our part to end the stigma of the issue,” she says. “Change the culture within your family so that every member knows it’s OK to talk about sexual violence and ask for help if needed.”

How Families Can Help

Family Food

Newsletter Signup

Your weekly guide to Mile High family fun. Colorado Parent has a newsletter for every parent. Sign Up