Positive momentum in preventing teen interpersonal violence is goal of Women’s Resource Center program
|Youth at a YMCA-sponsored program listen intently during a talk on violence prevention.|
- 21% of girls and 18% of boys reported experiencing bullying in the past year
- 30% of boys and 17% of girls had been in a physical fight
- 8% of girls and 9% of boys experienced dating violence- 2012 Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Fact Book
The Women’s Resource Center (WRC), serving Newport and Bristol Counties, which has provided prevention services since its founding 35 years ago, recognizes the need for all youth-serving organizations to include prevention of teen interpersonal violence – dating violence, sexual assault, bullying – in their programs.
As a result, WRC established the Primary Prevention Institute, which seeks to embed primary prevention techniques into existing nonprofits serving youth in Newport and Washington Counties. The Institute builds on the knowledge and skills WRC staff gained over the past eight years through participation in a national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) interpersonal violence prevention program.
“The WRC has been on the cutting edge of planning, implementing and evaluating primary prevention strategies aimed at reducing the prevalence of intimate partner violence,” explains Lori DiPersio, WRC executive director.
Inés Merchán, the Foundation’s grant programs officer for human services, notes, “This effort builds on WRC's expertise as part of a cohort of community-based organizations that have been at the forefront of interpersonal violence prevention nationally. The project not only addresses the Foundation goal of strengthening care for at-risk children, youth in crisis, and teen parents, but also replicates proven best practices. More Rhode Island youth will therefore benefit from these tried and true programs.”
| Members of Students Against Domestic Abuse in Newport discuss healthy relationship behaviors.|
Jessica Walsh, WRC’s director of prevention, continues, “We have great partnerships and, with shrinking resources, it’s in our best interest to enable other organizations to strengthen the great programs they have. This project creates a learning community around youth programs.”
Leading the Primary Prevention Institute and providing training of staff at youth-serving nonprofits will be WRC’s Jessica Walsh; Lucy Rios, director of prevention and education at the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV); and Megan Whelan, education director at the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County (DVRCSC). Lucy has coordinated the CDC-funded program in Rhode Island since its inception in 2003. Megan’s participation enables the program to reach nonprofits in the state’s more rural Washington County.
Lucy shares, “This is a great opportunity to implement the prevention capacity goals in the statewide plan and to provide training to more organizations. It makes sense to take what we’ve learned and replicate it.”
Megan sees an additional benefit, “It will be nice to be able to strengthen ties with organizations we currently work with."
Training will be provided to program and executive directors at these partner agencies:
|Youth served by the YMCA, as well as the other nonprofits at left, will be the beneficiaries of the Primary Prevention Institute.|
- Newport County YMCA
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County
- East Bay Met School
- Newport Public Library
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Center
- South County YMCA and
- Exeter Job Corp Academy.
In addition to reducing interpersonal violence among teens, the project will support each partner organization’s ability to strengthen its overall program planning and measurement skills. A researcher/public health leader at Boston University School of Public Health will provide technical assistance, support of the training curriculum, and program evaluation.
Joanne Hoops, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Newport County, says, “This project dovetails nicely with what we’re trying to do. Everything at the Boys & Girls Club is about impact, and we’re focusing on how to completely, consistently, and correctly gather the necessary information.”
“We’re really focusing on training the first year. We want to see each organization move a step or two forward. That will be different for different organizations, but positive movement is our goal. This is the first step toward impacting youth positively,” explains Jessica.
Looking ahead with the thought of providing training for youth-serving organizations statewide, Lori says, “We’ll be able to roll this out to more communities. It’s very exciting to be able to take what Jess and Lucy have learned (through the CDC program) and help others to incorporate prevention into their programs.”