“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
– Margaret Mead
At Ampersand Sexual Violence Resource Center, we are committed at reducing the incidence and prevalence of students who have experienced sexual violence. One of the ways we work towards this goal is through education in our 17-county service region. Our education programs are evidence-based and focus on prevention.
Our education is based on three beliefs:
Most people are not violent and do not want the people in their life to get hurt.
Most violence and the precursors to violence take place in the presence of bystanders.
Most people want to keep others safe, but they don’t always know how.
High School Prevention
One of the programs that our agency utilizes to assist in eradicating sexual violence is Green Dot. Green Dot is a training, a philosophy, and a movement that speaks to all individuals as bystanders. The Green Dot program is implemented in various high schools in our service region. The curriculum consists of trainings to faculty, staff, parents, and students, as well as community connection.
The focus of the trainings and presentations is to discuss the reality of power-based personal violence (sexual violence, partner violence, bullying, and stalking) and how we as bystanders have the power to prevent it. Throughout Green Dot, conversations occur that are focused on how to equip our communities with the skills and knowledge necessary to become active bystanders and how to change societal norms around violence.
The Green Dot program has seen significant success in increasing bystander responses. Recently, a 5-year study was conducted in the Kentucky schools that have implemented Green Dot. Researchers found that at these schools, the incidence of sexual violence decreased between 17-21%.
Middle School Prevention
We have recently expanded our prevention efforts into Middle Schools, due to the high rates of middle school students who have experienced dating and sexual violence. The program being used in middle schools is called Shifting Boundaries, and is focused on reducing the rate of dating violence and sexual harassment occurring among adolescents.
Throughout the program, students are encouraged to identify personal boundaries in various relationships and what to do if a boundary violation occurs. Students also become aware of their role as a bystander and how to safely intervene among their peers.
A key component of Shifting Boundaries is a school mapping exercise through which students anonymously identify areas in their school where they feel safe, unsafe, and uncertain about. Once the results are gathered, they are presented to the school administration to make necessary changes to keep the students safe. Shifting boundaries is evidence-based and has shown a significant reduction of physical and dating violence perpetration. In schools that implemented the program as intended, there was a 50% reduction of physical and dating violence.
There is no logical reason why we, as a community, have to accept sexual violence as the norm. No matter who you are or your life stage, there are ways to show your commitment in ending sexual violence. We all have a role to play in making our communities safer. Welcome to the movement.
For more information about our education programs, contact our Prevention Coordinator, Ariel Norvell at firstname.lastname@example.org!