Published Fri, Dec 2, 2011 1:29 pm Dateline
An area nonprofit is teaching grade school students to deal with the issues of sexual assault, abuse and bullying. The Ohio Department of Health awarded a grant to the Sexual Assault Prevention Program in November.
Director of SAPP, Lauren Riley, was interviewed on WOUB Television's Newswatch and says the program focuses on primary prevention of interpersonal violence.
"We are trying to stop the problem before it ever happens. So that's why we start as early as 3rd grade," she said.
Riley says the program starts off teaching students to identify bullying, act assertively, and communicate effectively. Later, she says, the program teaches about the meaning of sexual harassment and explains the difference between safe and unsafe touch to help prevent sexual abuse.
"We're trying to create that foundation, so that when they get older, we can teach them more and more about sexual assault and how to prevent it."
The program starts in elementary school and continues from middle to high school, Riley says. The subject matter changes as children get older.
"We also do some work with healthy relationships and dating abuse, especially in middle school and high school. We do a lot of work around that."
Riley says the program also teaches kids to be "active bystanders" who step in to do something about problems of violence or sexism when they see it.
"That's a really big part of prevention, is stepping in when you see something happening."
Riley also says adults or college students who are victims of sexual assault or dating violence can get help from such places as Ohio University's Survivor Advocacy Program. For more information, call the Tri-County Mental Health and Counseling at 740.592.3091.