Sophia Key West

Daily Point of Light # 3279 Aug 30, 2006

As a volunteer, Sophia West has empowered over 18 million families nationwide over the past 10 years with her English/Spanish character development abduction prevention DVD's and performances. Addressing the need of crime/violence prevention and predator awareness, Sophia's program and materials lead to a long term intergenerational solution.

As a child, West was victimized by a child sexual predator and suppressed the anxiety of the attacks. Later she married and was haunted by the nightmare again one Christmas Eve when her son attempted suicide. It was discovered that he had been sexually abused for years by a trusted family friend. West refused to allow her family to be victims. She founded a campaign, to stop predators and to educate families on the ten psychological deceptions that predators use to gain control over their victims. These are the same deceptions that are used on the internet, phone or face-to-face.

For more than ten years, West has traveled the nation with her innovative approach, lecturing and educating millions of children with interactive programs. West, a master magician, interlaces the program with good magic tricks that segue into the deceptions that negative individuals use to manipulate children into gangs, drugs, violence, and sexual abuse or to their death. She trained thousands of volunteers to follow in her footsteps as mentors to teach programs. West lobbied Congress for a grant under DOJJ to create and distribute free bilingual English/Spanish family crime prevention kids nationwide. After launching the national initiative where families, schools and organizations utilize these materials, West's efforts have reached another 8 million families nationwide. Most recently she has partnered the charity with the Navy's Community Service Outreach Division and with the National Education Association. West volunteers thousands of hours each year, even while pregnant with daughter, Michaela Victoria, now 5 months old. In 2005, she received the President's Volunteer Service Gold Medal and she just received The Volvo For Life Heroes Award, the Governor's Volunteer of the Year Award and President's Lifetime Achievement Award for unwavering commitment to stopping crime, violence and to protecting all children.

In a nation where the Department of Justice estimates that 7 out of 10 girls and 3 out of 7 boys will be victimized before they reach the age of 18 and where 551,000 registered sex offenders are living within our communities, West brings to light the truth about predators. She is often quoted saying, "Only 10% of child sexual predators are ever caught, which means that 90% or over 7 million avoid apprehension and thrive within the shadows of ignorance. We cannot be with our children at all times, but what we teach our kids will protect them forever."

Criminals seek two things to successfully commit a crime, vulnerability and opportunity. West's program creates an invisible shield of awareness around each child eliminating their vulnerability. Crime can only be reduced when we raise the awareness of potential victims. In a world where we often seek treatments for problems, West brings a solution.