Pittsburgh YWCA gathers local organizations to tackle sexual and domestic violence | Blogh
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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pittsburgh YWCA gathers local organizations to tackle sexual and domestic violence

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 5:18 PM

Education materials from the Futures Without Violence Coaching Boys into Men program - CP PHOTO BY REBECCA ADDISON
  • CP Photo by Rebecca Addison
  • Education materials from the Futures Without Violence Coaching Boys into Men program
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's lewd comments from 2005 have become widely known in just the few weeks since they were released. But now they're also being used to educate Pittsburgh youth about gender violence. 

At a meeting of area social service agencies and nonprofits today, as part of YWCA's Week Without Violence,organizations shared the resources they're using to prevent domestic and sexual violence. The event was put together in collaboration with Southwest PA Says No More, a local chapter of the No More campaign created by the FISA Foundation, Heinz Endowments and the United Way of Allegheny County to focus on prevention-focused work to stop gender-based violence.

"YWCA Greater Pittsburgh was thrilled to partner with Southwest PA Says No More to host the program today with the overall theme of Facing Violence Among Men," says Chaz Kellem, senior director of advocacy for race and gender equity for YWCA's Center for Race and Gender Equity. "The hope was to collaborate and learn about programs that are working with men and boys towards ending domestic and sexual violence...It is our hope that it will help build and strengthen relationships and explore possibilities for collaboration."

While several participants at the Oct. 20 event talked about resources they use to work with adults, most talked about educational resources for working with children. George Fleming is a batterer intervention specialist who works with men who have been court ordered to seek treatment for violent behavior. He says prevention programs in schools are key to ensuring fewer men come through his doors.

"The majority of the men in the group have never had education," Fleming says. "These types of subjects are taboo. If you don't go down to the board of education and demand some education in these schools you are moving backwards."

One popular gender violence prevention education training program used by high school athletic coaches is Coaching Men into Boys. Another is MVP Strategies, which is used in local charter schools like Urban Pathways and City High Charter.

MVP uses scenario-based intervention training. For example, one scenario would ask students what they would do in a situation where a group of friends are making homophobic remarks.  

Chris McAneny, executive director of Educating Empowering Eliminating Dating Violence, says these programs can only be effective if everyone in a school is participating.

"If the teachers, administrators and principals aren't on board, we're losing opportunities to teach everyday," McAneny says.

According to Southwest PA Says No More, 44 percent of reported sexual assaults take place before a victim turns 18. That's why the organization is hoping national attention on addressing sexual assault on college campuses will find it's way to middle and high schools.

"There's been a lot of great work happening at our colleges around sexual violence," says Kristy Trautmann, executive director of the FISA Foundation. "So what we've been looking at is taking what works and moving it down to our middle and high schools."

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