This past year, an ordinary Wilton mom drove her daughter back to college to begin another year.

There was nothing exciting or unusual about the drive back. Having sent her daughter off to college before, this particular “launch” felt familiar and routine.

Her daughter, by anyone’s standards, is not ordinary. An excellent student and all around “good kid,” she never once gave her parents a moment of concern or angst. She worked hard and was rewarded by gaining acceptance to a prestigious college, the very one she was returning to.

Mother and daughter said their goodbyes after settling her in. Mom had an uneventful drive home. Her daughter re-acclimated quickly and joined friends for a party later that evening.

In the early hours of the morning the next day the phone rang. Yes, it was one of those early morning phone calls that change everything.

Before she knew it, mom was back in the car driving to her daughter who was now in the hospital because she had been raped. It was the longest, most difficult drive of her life.

No one should ever have that kind of ride.

We live in a town where our high school is considered a gem of the state. Education is revered and the pursuit of excellence is commonplace. Despite all this, one of our own was not immune to the violence that is plaguing college campuses across our great nation.

Wilton High School students are exposed to a rigorous curriculum–calculus, physics, Environmental Science, statistics–the list goes on and is impressive. Parents, faculty and administrators work together to teach what it means to be a good citizen. Yet it still isn’t enough.

We need to teach them how to protect themselves.

With that end in mind, in recognition of Dating Violence Awareness Month, Wilton Domestic Violence Task Force, Wilton Library Association, Wilton Youth Council, Teen PeaceWorks and WHS PTSA are sponsoring a special program, Don’t be Prey.  Be Empowered. on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Brubeck Room at Wilton Library.

The evening will consist of a 45-minute viewing of the documentary, The Hunting Ground, which will be followed by a discussion lead by four panelists, representatives from the Domestic Violence Crisis Center, the Center of Sexual Assault, the Women’s Center in Danbury and the Wilton Police Department.

It is an open invitation to all WHS students and their parents to come learn more about how to stay safe.

This could be anyone’s daughter. After all the work and effort that goes into applications and essays, not to mention all the hard work it takes to become a desirable candidate for colleges, and every lesson they learn throughout life, this may be our children’s most important lesson of all.

To register for the event please visit the Wilton Library website.

Jennifer McNamara is a Wilton parent and the president of the Wilton Domestic Violence Task Force.