School presentations on empowering children to speak up lead to arrests

Arrests made after prevention program held at local schools

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - For the past 10 years, Holly’s House has been going to schools to help to empower students, and more than 50 thousand children have seen their presentations.

Their goal is to make children feel empowered and comfortable going to a trusted adult if something happens to them.

After one student heard a presentation by Holly’s House in Warrick County, she went to her teacher and told her about the abuse she was dealing with, which led to the arrest of Daniel Smith of Boonville, according to an affidavit.

Accused of 6 counts of child molestation
Accused of 6 counts of child molestation (Source: Warrick County Sheriff's Office)

“Really impactful for us to understand, we gave that child that voice we allowed them to understand someone is going to be there for you, a trusted adult is going to be there to help them through whatever it is they’re going through,” said Holly’s House Executive Director Holly Edmond.

In another case, Jerrel Greer of Vanderburgh County is being charged with rape. Court records say a 14-year-old girl told her teacher that someone touched her inappropriately. The affidavit states the victim told her teacher after watching a video at school about reporting inappropriate touching.

Both cases point out the importance of empowering victims.

[Related: Evansville man charged with rape of child]

After a senate bill passed that mandated all kids, kindergarten through 12th-grade, receive prevention education, school requests for the program have skyrocketed.

“We went from teaching about 9,000 students last year to being scheduled to teach 14,000 students this year,” said Edmond.

The program encourages students of all ages to speak up when they see or hear something that is not right, whether it’s dealing with abuse or bullying.

Holly’s House executive director advises parents to listen to their children. If they are asking questions, answer them honestly.

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