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Out & About in Cleveland

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Social Advocates for Youth

SAY (Social Advocates for Youth), a program of Bellefaire JCB; the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center; and the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center; and author Rachele Alpine all joined forces to put on a very powerful program to raise awareness about sexual assault at the Bellfaire JCB on Tuesday, April 29th that we attended. Ms. Alpine talked about her book, "Canary" which deals with the dilemma of a teenager who is sexually assaulted by a popular basketball player at her new school. Ms. Alpine was motivated to write this book partly due to the experiences of one of her friends who was sexually harassed in high school. Ms. Alpine is currently an English Teacher at Perry High School in Ohio.

Next we heard from two young women who are part of the Sexual Assault Violence Educators program at CWRU speak about their own experiences with sexual assault and their determination to assist other victims.

The program concluded with Alex Leslie from the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center speak about the "bystander intervention" approach to stopping sexual assault which involves witnesses stepping in when potential misconduct arises by either directly stopping it, distracting the perpetrators, or by keeping calm and asking for help (aka delegate). Mr. Leslie called the aforementioned "three D's" of direct, distract and delegate an important part of the solution.

It was interesting that this program took place today because today the White House issued a report on steps to prevent sexual assault on college campuses and said colleges must take action to curb violence that has plagued women at schools throughout the country. Vice President Joe Biden said that "colleges and universities can no longer turn a blind eye or pretend rape and sexual assault doesn't occur on campuses. We need to provide survivors with more support and we need to bring perpetrators to more justice and we need colleges and universities to step up."

We couldn't agree more and we think that this should apply to high schools also.

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