Humboldt CAASA Changes Name to AVA

Humboldt CAASA Changes Name to AVA, Continues to Educate Public On Child Safety

A Feature Article by LadyJ

Humboldt CAASA, a Winnemucca based organization devoted to personal safety and support for the victims of abuse, has changed their name to better reflect all of their goals. The group is now known as Advocates for Victims of Abuse or AVA. AVA Director Chelle Robinson and Secretary Shari Hoskins staffed a booth at the recent Community Garden Farmer’s Market Grand Opening to promote just one of their many causes; keeping children safe.

“One of our organizational goals has always been to keep children safe,” Robinson noted, “We’ve been promoting safety since we started.” AVA’s booth featured fingerprinting for children, with fingerprinting cards donated by the Nevada Highway Patrol. Other materials provided by AVA provided safety guidelines for children in a variety of summer time situations.

School is out, but sports are a big part of summer for a lot of kids. AVA materials provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children stress the importance of making sure all coaches have had thorough and proper background checks. They further advise monitoring the coach’s attitude about winning and aggression to ensure that the child is not learning bullying behavior or other overly aggressive habits.

The long break from school also means a lot of time for kids to just hang out at malls, movie theatres, skate parks and other public gathering places. AVA and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children both seek to remind children to never go alone to any of these places, no matter how comfortable they feel when spending time there. The same rule applies to vehicles. It is never safer to for a child to get into a vehicle with a stranger or anyone else without first obtaining permission from a parent or guardian.

Children are further advised to never go into a public restroom alone, to avoid playing around canals, ditches and other dangerous areas, and to avoid openly displaying their name on backpacks, clothing or other items a stranger could easily see.

Despite the warm weather, many children continue to enjoy indoor activities. AVA’s information packet included reminders to children to keep doors locked and to refuse to open the door to anyone unless they know and trust the person and the visit has been approved by the child’s parent or guardian. While much of the safety information the group provided will serve as important reminders and checklists for parents and children, one topic will still be very new to many parents: online safety.

AVA now offers a pamphlet entitled “Protect Your Child’s Online Life.” The handout notes the basic online safety rules such as discussing the Internet with children and establishing rules for use, monitoring the child’s IM chat list or social networking site friend lists, and becoming familiar with all programs the child is using. It goes on to note the signs that the child might be communicating with an online predator, including changes in the child’s behavior, unknown phone numbers on the child’s cell phone or bill, or gifts from people the parent does not know. However, this pamphlet also serves as a guide parents or other caregivers can keep to help them decipher online chat dialogue. Most people know that LOL means “laughing out loud” and BRB means “be right back,” but a child may also be sending or receiving messages that say P911 to indicate that their parents are entering the room, “TOS” for “teacher over shoulder,” “143” to signify “I love you” and LIMIRL for “let’s meet in real life.”

Anyone who would like a copy of these handouts or any other information on child safety, personal safety for adults, sexual assault prevention and victims support, or information and support for any other victims of abuse is encouraged to contact AVA at 775-623-2328, 775-623-2312. “Our new name encompasses more of what we do,” said Robinson. “We’re not going to turn anybody away.”