Gov. Mike Pence has proclaimed this week as National Safe Place Week in the state of Indiana.

The week serves to increase awareness about the importance of youth safety and the dangers young people face when they feel they have nowhere to go or are in crisis situations.

The week also highlights the Safe Place program, which brings together community members to provide help and safety for youth facing abuse, neglect, bullying or serious family problems.

Locally, Pathways Youth Shelter & Family Services operates the Safe Place program.

The local program partners with businesses and community organizations to provide Madison and Jefferson County youth immediate safety and access to supportive resources. There are about 30 Safe Place locations in Jefferson and Switzerland County.

Now would be a good time for parents to sit down with their children and discuss local Safe Place locations. A list of locations can be found at www.nationalsafeplace.org. Children need to know to look for the big yellow diamond-shaped signs that safe "Safe Place."

Pathways' Safe Place Program has served approximately 3,000 youth each year since its inception in 2008.

It is estimated that more than one million youth run away from home each year due to abuse, neglect, family conflicts and other issues. The Safe Place program is an option for young people who feel they have nowhere to turn.

National Safe Place also operates the TXT 4 HELP initiative, a 24/7 text-for-support service for youth in crisis. Teens can text the word "safe" and their current location (address/city/state) to 69866 and receive a message with the closest Safe Place location and the number for the local youth shelter. Users also have the option to text interactively with a mental health professional for more help.

For additional information contact Pathways Youth Shelter & Family Services at (812) 265-3777.