Group recognized for video

Students raise awareness about sexual violence among teens

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The camera pans the room of teenagers. It is a weekend night, and someone's parents are out of town. Most of those in attendance are drunk or are getting drunk.

The camera picks out an attractive couple in the middle of the party. The guy is being very attentive to the girl. He makes sure her glass is always full. She is getting drunk.

They are talking about how much they like each other.

He invites her to go into a nearby bedroom where they can have more privacy to talk.

When they are alone, he forces her to have sex with him.

The rest of the film is dedicated to the aftermath. Students whisper about it in the halls of the high school. There are varied reactions, but most people don't believe her.

"But he's such a nice guy," one girl says.

The film ends with monologues by the victim and the rapist.

She says, "I feel so sad. No one believes me. I'm so ashamed."

He says, "I don't know what she's talking about. She knew why we were going in there. I hope she doesn't call the police."

The film was made this winter by members of the Steamboat Springs High School Peer Education Group to raise awareness about sexual violence among teens.

When the members of Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault saw the video, they were impressed. They invited the students to Golden to receive the statewide Prevention and Education Award.

During the ceremony, similar awards also were given to Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman and Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey for their part in bringing serial rapist Brent Brents to justice and to Denver rape counselor Jennifer Bier for her refusal to violate her client's privacy during the Air Force Academy rape cases.

The Peer Education Group at the high school was formed eight years ago as an extracurricular activity by the staff of Advocates Against Battering and Abuse. This year, 26 students participated. There are no criteria to join, only an interest in raising awareness about violence issues. Students go through an intensive eight-day training program at the beginning of the school year. For the rest of the year, they meet twice a month to plan events and projects.

This year's seven-minute video was made with the help of producer Kelly Anzalone and Advocates executive director Diane Moore, but the idea and the writing was 100 percent driven by the students. The film was shown once to sophomores at the high school during the past school year, but it will be used for years as a training tool, Moore said.

"I think they got the award because this is a truly powerful project," she said. "In the past three years, there has been a significant increase in reports of sexual violence from teens. (In 2004, 15 teens reported experiencing sexual violence to Advocates.) Projects like this really do make a difference."

For more information about the Peer Education Group at Steamboat Springs High School or Soroco High School, call 879-2034.

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