Third Teen TASK Force Coming to Mashpee High School

MASHPEE – Children’s Cove and Mashpee High School have partnered to create the third Children’s Cove Teen TASK (Taking A Stand for Kids) Force.

The mission of the TASK Force is to engage in dialogue with teens about child sexual abuse issues, empower them to raise the awareness of their peers of child abuse issues, and to educate them about the services Children’s Cove provides.

Community Education Coordinator Jacob Stapledon said that Children’s Cove works directly with the students to help them become advocates for their peers who may be facing abuse.

“One of the things that we know is that teenagers are more likely to talk to their peers than they are to ask for help from an adult,” said Stapledon.

“We want to be able to work with schools and work with the community to create ambassadors who really know about the supports and resources that are available to teenagers in their communities, and work with them to get the help that they need.”

Members will work throughout the school year, meeting and learning about child sex abuse issues facing the Cape and Islands. In April, designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month, the TASK Force will complete a group project with the goal of raising awareness in their community.

From December through the end of the school year, students on the TASK Force will meet monthly with Children’s Cove staff and professionals in law enforcement, social services, and related other fields. The meetings will aim to provide a detailed awareness of child abuse and an understanding of how various community agencies are responding to the problem.

The Teen TASK Force program began in the 2016-2017 school year in the Dennis-Yarmouth School District and continued into the 2017-2018 school year at Monomoy Regional High School. More than a dozen students have chosen to volunteer to participate in the TASK Force each year.

“We started two years ago at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School and we had a fantastic group of sophomores that we worked with there. We wanted to get into the issues that were facing the community and a lot of that was understanding the world that teenagers are in through social media and online,” Stapledon recalled.

Children’s Cove staff at Mashpee High School are recruiting sophomore students to participate in the TASK Force. The organization plans to provide information to students and begin recruiting throughout October.

“Most of the time teenagers are not equipped with knowing how to handle these difficult and challenging situations, often times adults don’t know what to do,” Stapledon argues.

“By providing them with the education and the awareness of the resources available to them, both in their school and in their community, and who to just call and ask for support from, we’re potentially creating an avenue that students would be able to get help in reporting to an adult that could help them.”

Children’s Cove is a department of Barnstable County and has been the children’s advocacy center on the Cape and Islands since 1997.

By TIM DUNN, News Center

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