Grant to Provide Education on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Feb. 25, 2009 – Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology has been awarded a three-year $296,000 federal grant from the Office of Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, to provide education to students, faculty and staff members on domestic and relationship violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The grant was announced today at a news conference at Southeast’s River Campus.

Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, said the University is partnering with the Cape Girardeau Police Department, the Safe House for Women and the Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence (SEMO-NASV) on the grant to particularly address these issues as they impact the south side of Cape Girardeau. He said the grant is a continuation of a $199,820 federal grant awarded in November 2006 to the University to launch its Violence, Information, Counseling, Treatment, Outreach, Rights and You (VICTORY) program aimed at educating University students and staff about the realities of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking. With today’s grant announcement, the University has now received nearly $500,000 to boost education efforts in the areas of domestic and relationship violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Dobbins said the grant will provide resources to identify, refer, train and be an advocate for University students, faculty and staff in preventing violence and prosecuting violators on college campuses. He said the funding will be used to educate students, faculty and staff on all of the University’s campuses, including the River Campus.

He said many University students live on the south side of Cape Girardeau, which sees a steady number of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking cases.

“So we are working very closely with the Cape Girardeau Police Department in addressing these concerns that affect our students who live in south Cape to make this a safe, desirable area in which to live,” Dobbins said.

Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson said, “The City of Cape Girardeau enjoys a tremendous relationship with Southeast Missouri State University and seeks every opportunity to partner and collaborate on behalf of our citizenry. This grant is just another example of this partnership and the success we can have when working together.”

Cape Girardeau Police Chief Carl Knnison, said, “We’re truly excited to partner with Southeast Missouri State University, as well as other individuals and organizations who have an interest in providing safe neighborhoods within the City of Cape. I’m excited about expanding the ‘Green Dot’ initiative to the community, and I believe it will have a significant positive impact on the quality of life of our citizens.”

Knudtson added, “This grant fits in extremely well with the City’s overall master plan and will allow us to continue our focus and commitment of improving the quality of life for folks who are seeking assistance and wanting to make a better life for themselves and the generations to come.”

Dr. Linda Keena, director of the VICTORY grant at Southeast, said the grant will allow the University to continue to educate others on the “Green Dot” model of violence prevention. The “Green Dot” model capitalizes on the power of peer and cultural influence, targeting all community members as potential bystanders, seeking to engage them, through awareness, education and skills-practice, in proactive behaviors that establish intolerance of violence as the norm, as well as reactive interventions in high-risk situations — resulting in the ultimate reduction of violence.

A “Green Dot” is any behavior, choice, word or attitude that promotes safety for everyone and communicates utter intolerance for rape, domestic and relationship violence and stalking, Keena said. A “Green Dot” is intervening in a high risk situation, sponsoring a fund raiser for prevention efforts, responding to a victim blaming statement with words of support, hanging a prevention paper in your office or business and teaching children about respect. A “Green Dot” also is the placement of a link on your Web site to a local prevention program and providing safety information at the counter of a business.

“A “Green Dot” is simply your individual choice at any given moment to make our campus and community safer,” Keena said. “One person, one ‘Green Dot,’ can make all the difference in world. We want to educate people as much as possible.”

Last November, the University held a “Summit on Violence Prevention: Ending Domestic and Sexual Violence,” during which participants learned about the “Green Dot” model of violence prevention. Participants in the summit were part of an exclusive group of Southeast Missourians who were among the first in the state to be introduced to the “Green Dot” model of violence prevention. Participants joined in facilitating discussions about how business, education, media, government, faith organizations and many other groups can generate “Green Dots.”

“Southeast Missourians want to stop rape, domestic violence and stalking,” Keena said. “You might think that’s an impossible goal. But, quite simply, it is possible.”