Sunday, January 29, 2017

Prevention is essential

We are less than two months away from the United Nations Women Commission on the Status of Women conference in New York! Since starting the fellowship in October, I have collected data and completed my research report on studied dating and sexual violence youth prevention education in Durham schools. I collected data through interviews with staff members of nonprofits around North Carolina, teachers, government officials, and public health workers. I also examined health reports and research articles to find quantitative data on rates of dating and sexual violence and the associated economic impacts. The Durham Crisis Response Center is an amazing nonprofit organization and I am grateful for their staff’s insights on the status of dating and sexual violence prevention services in Durham County. The message that I want to convey to everyone during all of my upcoming presentations is that prevention education is essential to ending interpersonal violence.
            Durham currently has limited youth prevention education that is evidence-based and comprehensive. Their neighboring county, Orange County, has been able to provide age-appropriate comprehensive dating and sexual violence youth prevention education curricula to all of their students in K-9th grades. This model is extraordinary and can serve as an example for counties all over the country. Durham County nonprofits, teachers, and government officials have already expressed interest in expanding dating and sexual violence youth education services to all of their students but require further support from local government, the school system, and the public health department. Durham as a city is in a unique opportunity to be one of the first cities in the United States to adopt the principles of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. On a similar note, Durham county and city governments could work together to make the county of Durham one of the first counties to fully embrace dating and sexual violence youth prevention education.

            I will be conveying my research results to the Durham city government on the afternoon of February 23. That same day in the evening I will present my research results at the Durham Local to Global Women’s Forum: Cities for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. This dinner is open to the public and will give the fellows a chance to present their research findings to the local community. We head to New York on March 11 to present our research at the CSW conference. In April, we will present our research to the Durham County government. In order to prepare for all of these presentations, we are currently developing our public speaking skills and practicing our presentations with our mentors. I have found that my greatest struggle during this research project is staying focused on something specific. Dating and sexual violence prevention is a huge topic and it was difficult to fit everything I wanted to say within my 10-page research limit. I cannot wait for all of this hard work to pay off when I see how Durham government officials apply the findings from my research report into change for their community and when I share my research with local and global audiences.

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