Films in Modesto highlight sexual, child abuse

Stanislaus County organizations join forces this month for a pair of film screenings to help raise awareness about two serious issues.

Because April is both Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Awareness Month, the Stanislaus Family Justice Center, Haven Women’s Center and the Stanislaus County Community Services Agency are collaborating to present the movies.

The films, “The Hunting Ground” and “Paper Tigers,” will screen on separate evenings at the State Theatre – Thursday, April 7, and April 26, respectively. The Stanislaus County Office of Education and California State University, Stanislaus, are co-sponsors.

The Hunting Ground” is a documentary on rape crimes on U.S. college campuses. “Paper Tigers” follows an alternative high school in Walla Walla, Wash., that has changed its approach to student discipline.

Panels will be available after each movie to answer questions and provide information about how these issues are being addressed in Stanislaus County.

According to Carol Shipley, executive director of the Stanislaus Family Justice Center, Haven Women’s Center alone provided services last year to more than 400 survivors of sexual abuse in Stanislaus County. Almost a third of them were under 13. Half of them were under 18.

“I knew that the State Theatre was very open to helping out good causes,” Shipley said in an email interview. “Having seen ‘The Hunting Ground’ ... I thought it would be a good way to provide information (and) education to the community about these issues.”

While Shipley hasn’t seen “Paper Tigers,” it was recommended to her, she said.

“Those who work with children exposed to trauma are learning about trauma-informed care,” Shipley said, which was used to turn around the issues at the high school in the film. “Studies and research show that bad decisions often can be traced back to trauma in a child’s life that was not brought out. Trauma affects the development of the brain, so instead of asking, ‘What is wrong with you?’ you ask, ‘What happened to you?’ 

Other community awareness events planned connected to Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Awareness Month include Haven’s third annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event April 16. Also, the Stanislaus Family Justice Center and District Attorney’s Victim Services Unit are sponsoring a Victims’ Rights Week event on the courthouse lawn April 16.

“The Hunting Ground” screens April 7, “Paper Tigers” on April 26 at the State Theatre, 1307 J St., Modesto. Films begin at 7 p.m. and admission is $8 both days. For more see