(Acworth, Ga. – April 4, 2013) When Chattahoochee Technical College Instructor Marcy Hehnly began inviting the CEO of Voice Today to speak to her classes, she did not realize how many of her students were adult survivors of child sexual abuse. In the year and a half that Angela Williams and her staff have made presentations, Hehnly saw the hands going up in every class when the topic was discussed.
“I know that the statistics say that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be victims of child sexual abuse,” Hehnly said. “But to see these adults in my class and know that it had happened to them was staggering. I knew I needed to do something, and that was to educate others on these crimes – particularly because Atlanta is a hub for sex trafficking and abuse.”
The result of her efforts is an 8-hour seminar to be held at Chattahoochee Technical College’s North Metro Campus April 19 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Experts from around the state will be speaking about defining the abuse, recognizing it and the indicators, intervention and prevention strategies, advocating for victims and the laws of Georgia that pertain to these types of crimes. Free and open to the public, registration information is available at www.chatthoocheetech.edu/service-learning.
“The idea came about because Angela is a victim, my students are victims and there are many others out there who are victims that need to know they can be healed,” said Hehnly. “This is a subject no one wants to hear about or talk about yet statistically it is staggering to see how it is such a societal issue. It’s time to take a stand for victims and let them know people care by giving them a VOICE!”
Original plans for the event ballooned when Hehnly talked with her fellow instructors. The view changed from the criminological aspects to those of sociology and psychology. From there Hehnly recruited CTC Psychology Instructor Cindy Andrews and Sociology Instructor Leigh Keever to help organize the event. Before they were done even more subject areas and organizations were asking to be added to the table just from word of mouth.
In addition to Williams with VOICE Today, speakers at the event include Amy Economopoulos, executive director of the Anna Crawford Children’s Center in Cherokee County; Lt. Tanya Smith, commander of the Administrative Operations Division and public information officer for the Holly Springs Police Department; Tiffany Sawyer, director of prevention services at the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy; Tom Scales, chairman of the board of directors and a co-founder of The Innocence Revolution; Sara R. Thomas, special agent III with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; Kim McCoy, director of the Victim Witness Unit for the district attorney’s office in Cobb County; and Thomas A. Bastis, detective with the Cobb County Police Department.
Other programs, classes and students have also joined in the efforts by organizing service learning projects, including a teddy bear collection on all eight of Chattahoochee Technical College’s campuses. Teddy bears collected will be distributed to participating agencies for victims.
For more information, including speakers’ bios, schedule, information about the projects and registration, visit www.chattahoocheetech.edu/service-learning.