SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University will help launch the two-day Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education "Stop It Now!" training program promoting safer community, awareness and a higher calling of social responsibility in the area of child sexual victimization by offering full-day sessions April 24-25.
The systemwide program, backed by Marie Conley, a member of the PASSHE board of governors who is serving as an intermediary between the national Stop It Now! organization and the system, will be offered in the Russell Wright Alumni House and Conference Center and will include representatives from other regional PASSHE universities.
"The PASSHE board got behind this project when it was presented to us as an opportunity to deal with the issue of child victimization," Conley said. "I touted the strength of the PASSHE universities and the diversity seen on our 14 university campuses. There is a quality on our campuses, not only as centers of academic excellence, but in the ways our campuses touch the communities in which they are located. This is a first-of-its-kind pilot program and is cross disciplinary in its approach to addressing child victimization."
"I was pleased to advocate for the PASSHE system to be part of this program," she said.
Each PASSHE university will develop a "Prevention Squad" of 10 to 12 representatives during the training that will serve as the initial unit to begin disseminating information on their home campus.
Sessions for the invited participants start at 8:30 a.m., and will include lunch, with the entire program being funded by underwriters.
April is recognized as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Sessions, which will serve as a national model for future programs, have already been conducted at PASSHE's headquarters, the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg. Additional programs will also be offered next fall at Bloomsburg and Cheney universities, both PASSHE members.
All 14 PASSHE universities will take part in the training.
Stop It Now!, which, began in 1992, has been working to prevent sexual abuse of children by helping adults, families and communities take actions that keep children safe.
The pilot program at SRU will provide participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to help prevent children from becoming victims of sexual abuse. Participants will form a "NOW! PASSHE Prevention Squad," which will lead the prevention efforts at SRU.
After the conference, participants are expected to have a heightened awareness and willingness to apply strategies and tools learned in the training. Participants will also be asked to take a pre- and post-survey as well as a six-month retention online survey later. Telephone messages will also encourage involvement.
"PASSHE's staff and faculty have so many circles of influence and have the ability based on their positions to help to shape and create a culture of prevention," said Deb Donovan Rice, executive director of Stop It Now! "If they prevent one child from being abused or create a safer and more protective environment for a child that has been victimized to ask for help through this program, then PASSHE has succeeded."
Frank Brogan, PASSHE chancellor, in announcing the program, said, "The serious issue of child sexual victimization cuts across all aspects of society."
"When one in six boys and one in four girls may be sexually abused before age 18, we have an obligation to play a role in prevention and awareness when and if we can. With the support of our provosts and vice presidents of student affairs, PASSHE has played an integral part in assisting Stop It Now! in developing a training program specifically for higher education. We are proud to be a leader in this endeavor."
Now!'s expertise in sex abuse programming crosses the spectrum of prevention. The organization provides tools, training and support at the individual and relationship levels, and provides training and technical assistance, advocacy and leadership at the community and societal levels.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.