From The Desk of The Executive Director - On YVP

In 2014 the Board and staff, along with input from more than 100 stakeholders, determined that to make the kind of change we envisioned – to change the social norms that lead to a rape culture and ultimately end sexual violence – we could not continue to operate in the status quo with our Youth Violence Prevention Program.

Annually, highly-skilled STSM educators facilitate our practice-based, multi-session primary prevention curriculum to more than 3,000 youth in our service area. 3,000 children receive six sessions of externally-evaluated, primary prevention of sexual assault and interpersonal violence education, resulting in more than 18,000 contacts with only 2.5 educators on staff. And it works. In FY2013-2014 using the Youth Violence Prevention Curriculum©, STSM changed adolescent dating violence and gender-role norms, improved conflict resolution skills in dating relationships, and promoted help-seeking skills as indicated by more than 73% of students increasing from pre to posttest with an average posttest score of 86%. In addition, 87% of students self-reported on posttests that they would take action to support victims of violence and intervene appropriately to prevent violence and assist victims.

Yes, we are proud of our hard work – of the difference we are making.  If we kept investing time and money internally towards prevention maybe we could educate more than 5,000 youth next year, and we would be even prouder. Unfortunately, as compared to the 190,329 estimated children under the age of 18 residing in our four county service area, 5,000 isn’t even beginning to truly impact social norms. Furthermore, we are helping these children view their world differently and treat each other better, but we are putting them right back into the schools, homes, and communities that breed rape culture in the first place. As an organization, we were spinning wheels and talking in terms of progress in our childrens’ lifetimes versus change today.

As a solution to what appeared to be an overwhelming problem, STSM decided to alter the Youth Violence Prevention Program (WhyYVP). Instead of STSM staff facilitating the discussions with youth, STSM educators will train teachers from within the schools to be facilitators. In addition to providing a full two day training on the curriculum, oversight by experienced facilitators on STSM staff to maintain fidelity, technical support, and access to online video files and tip sheets, STSM will train teachers on mandated reporting and handling disclosures, the SC Health and Education Standards, the Comprehensive Health Education Act, handling difficult questions from students, and referrals to community-based services.  Our goals will lead us to educating more children and educating the school community those children rely on.  As of today, STSM obtained a copyright for the Youth Violence Prevention Curriculum©; created a YVP© Facilitator Manual for middle and high school teachers and materials for use by facilitators; and launched a marketing campaign to make School Districts aware of the change to the facilitator model. We are in the process over overhauling the website to have an intranet for facilitators only and should launch in June.

STSM’s first training with 25 educators from Lexington III, Lexington IV, Richland II, and Richland/Lexington 5 is scheduled for June 2015. In addition, STSM received a grant award from Sisters of Charity Foundation to train 25-30 educators from the 13 other rape crisis centers so that children from the Upstate to the Lowcountry and everywhere between could benefit from the YVP© curriculum. That training is scheduled for July. If we only train those 50 or so facilitators this one summer, more than 17,000 youth will receive primary prevention education on sexual assault and interpersonal violence.

While we have had a few (hundred) doors closed on us in the process, some unforeseen opportunities have arisen as well. STSM hopes to soon solidify plans to train officers and staff from detention/corrections facilities to facilitate an adult-focused version of YVP© within their institutions. We have also been in serious discussions with a country in the Caribbean who is interested in implementing YVP© in their schools.  And, of course, we will continue to focus on relationship development and curriculum promotion in the schools in our service area. 

One day we will report that more than 190,000 youth received YVP© every year from middle school through high school; that interpersonal violence and sexual assault among teens (who will someday be adults) in our service area is at an all-time low, that arrests and prosecutions of sexual assault are at 100%* because the community holds law enforcement and prosecutors accountable; and that 100% of survivors report because they know they will be embraced and loved.

 

 

 

 

*The FBI estimates that 2%-8% of sexual assault cases are false reports. As advocates, we believe there are no false reports. There is just what the survivor said, and that is all.

Ginny Waller, Executive Director

We hope you enjoy this monthly feature from our Executive Director, Ginny Waller. Ginny will focus each month on a component of how nonprofit best practices really play out in STSM's strategic work to serve survivors of sexual violence and to educate our community to identify and prevent sexual violence. As always, let us know what you think!