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NEW: Worcester Colleges Score $500,000 To Reduce Campus Violence

Thursday, October 11, 2012

 

A GoLocalWorcester investigation earlier this year found a total of 40 forcible sexual offenses during the past three years at the 10 largest colleges in Central Mass. Now, the federal government is stepping up efforts to reduce that number on four of Worcester's campuses.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women has awarded $499,962 to Clark University, Assumption College, the College of the Holy Cross, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) as part of the government’s Grants to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus Program.

“Sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking have no place anywhere, let alone at our institutions of higher learning. The work being done by Clark, Assumption, Holy Cross, and WPI to reduce such violence on campus is commendable,” said Congressman Jim McGovern.

“This grant will go a long way towards helping the universities and their community partners reduce instances of violence among some of our more at-risk populations.”

The campus program provides schools with the opportunity to build a multidisciplinary team from all four schools to work on eradicating interpersonal violence on campus. Efforts are designed to enhance victim services, implement prevention and education programs, and develop and strengthen security and investigation strategies in order to prevent, prosecute and respond to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking crimes at colleges.

Clark University was awarded a similar grant three years ago to help launch their Clark Anti-Violence Education (CAVE) program, which developed prevention programs for all incoming students, updated campus policies on sexual and dating violence, instituted free intervention and education programs and trained key members of the campus community on how to effectively handle such cases.

“College students are among the highest risk groups for being victimized by these types of violence,” says Denise Hines, research assistant professor of psychology and CAVE co-director. “Sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking occur on all campuses in this country. It is a nationwide problem that we in Worcester are working proactively to prevent.”

The new program builds on the initial efforts by expanding the scope of the programming across all four of the schools in this consortium project.

“Our intention from the start was to eventually expand this programming across the Worcester Consortium,” says project co-director and Clark University research assistant professor of psychology Kathleen Palm Reed.

“The main impetus for such a coordinated community effort is that our students attend each other’s universities for classes, social functions, and other events, and without a coordinated community response across Worcester, there is no consistent message regarding expected behavior across campuses.”

The schools will work with local community groups Daybreak Domestic Violence Services and Pathways for Change under the new program as well. Other efforts that will be explored include the development of a consortium-based violence prevention webpage, a social norms campaign, and the development of consortium-based violence prevention materials to be sent to all incoming students and their parents. 

 

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