March 17-23 is recognized as National Safe Place Week, where we raise awareness about the Safe Place program and how it can help the youth in our area.
You may have seen the yellow Safe Place stickers around town, at libraries or in community centers, but do you know what they mean? Not many people do, even though these stickers can save a life — and they do save many lives each year.
Let’s dive into what these Safe Place stickers stand for and how you can help kids in your community by recognizing National Safe Place Week.
What Is a Safe Place?
A Safe Place is a location where youth under the age of 18 can seek out immediate help and safety. The premise is simple: various Safe Place sites around town display the yellow Safe Place sign to let youth know that their location is somewhere they can turn to if they are in a crisis. These locations include local fire stations, community centers, libraries, PSTA, and other businesses. There are more than 400 Safe Place sites in Pinellas and Manatee County.
The goal is to have Safe Places all around the community so youth in the area can find somewhere fast if they need help. Many youth are walking distance to their nearest Safe Place location, so help is only a few minutes away.
Employees and volunteers at these Safe Place sites are trained to respond when a youth or teen is in need of help. They find a comfortable spot for the youth and then contact the licensed Safe Place agency nearby. In Pinellas and Manatee County, Family Resources is the licensed Safe Place provider. We can provide shelter for youth in crisis and counseling. Our job is to take kids and teens in and get them the care they need.
These kids or teens might be running away from abuse, could have been kicked out because of their sexual orientation, or could need a place to escape the influence of drugs and alcohol. In 2018, almost a third of youth sought out a Safe Place because of family problems and 26% needed a safe place because they were homeless. Whatever the reason, we are here for them.
In Pinellas County, Safe Places are mobile. At the end of 2017, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) announced that all of their 200 buses and terminals were part of the Safe Place program. All youth have to do is get on a bus and tell the driver they need a Safe Place. The driver will connect them to one of our shelters so we can help them. One of our staff members will meet the bus at a stop along their route to pick up the youth.
PSTA really went above and beyond to promote the program. They wrapped one of their buses with the Safe Place logo and information for youth. This lets people know across the county that there is always a Safe Place nearby.
The Safe Place program was started by the YMCA teen shelter in Louisville, Kentucky in 1983 and has expanded across the country to more than 1,472 communities with more than 20,000 Safe Place locations. The organization is now known as the National Safe Place Network (NSPN) and relies on local communities to promote the Safe Place program and let students know what these stickers mean.
The best way to recognize National Safe Place Week is to talk about Safe Place locations and what they mean. Consider holding an assembly in your school or instructing teachers to tell students about this safety option.
If you don’t work directly with students, tap into your local community to see if you can make an announcement. Discuss the Safe Place system at your local church, neighborhood meeting, gym, or arts group so more people are aware of what it means. Ask adults to pass this information on to students and other youth they work with.
The more people who talk about Safe Places and promote the system, the greater the chances that a young person will get the help they need during a crisis.
If you are interested in setting up a presentation to educate the youth in your organization about Safe Place, contact Amy Manning, Community Liaison, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-521-5212.
Family Resources is proud to be a Safe Place in the community and works constantly throughout the year to bring awareness of this program to students and adults in Pinellas and Manatee counties. Thank you for celebrating National Safe Place Week and we hope you will share this piece to let other people know about it!