By GABRIELLA BOCK | Reporter
Palisadian Angelica Hernández is calling on local parents and neighbors to help keep children safe from sexual predators.
On Wednesday, Dec. 6, the writer and mother-of-two held a two-day lecture at the Palisades Branch Library on the lasting effects of sexual assault and how parents can be vigilant in both thwarting and recognizing signs of abuse.
Hernández, who holds a master’s degree in developmental psychology and a Ph.D. in education from UCLA, operates the website 2moms2kids, an online platform to help guide parents through difficult discussions such as bullying, sex and overcoming trauma.
During the live talks, Hernández praised the “#metoo” movement, an internet campaign condemning sexual assault and predatory behavior that went viral last October after the New York Times uncovered decades of sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood film producer and executive Harvey Weinstein, for inciting a national discussion about sexual abuse and the damaging effects it can have on the human psyche.
“We’ve been needing to have this conversation for some time now,” she noted before expanding the dialogue to include how parents can empower their children to stand up for themselves in the wake of danger.
“We have to be proactive as parents and community members,” Hernández explains on her website. “We have to help our kids navigate a world that includes predation, online, live, in public and private spaces. There is no need to terrorize our children, but to believe they cannot handle the conversation is negligent on our part as parents.”
Such proactive measures, she suggested, include cultivating an environment where threatened individuals don’t have to search hard for a place of refuge.
While speaking with the Palisadian-Post, Hernández revealed her initiative to create town safety areas, such as in local restaurants or shops, where children or adults can seek public shelter while calling their parents or the police.
“What I’m thinking about doing is offering places—like at Cafe Vida or Starbucks—a program where store owners can accept training that would certify their businesses as designated ‘safety zones,’” she explained.
Although still in its infancy, Hernández believes the program would allow fearful children to feel more comfortable asking a stranger for help.
“Something like this would really have to be a commitment from the community,” she said. “But it would be simple—we already have the resources to help others.”
Palisadians interested in forming a neighborhood “safety zone” coalition are asked to contact Hernández at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit 2moms2kids.com.
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