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Posts Tagged ‘community outreach for sexual assault prevention’

SAAM

April is sexual assault awareness month.  The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.

I understand this is not an easy topic to address, but sexual assaults can no longer be considered a taboo subject.  Silence is not an option.  It will only make the issue worse in communities, desensitize people to bad actions, discourage reporting, and slow response times.  Everyone has a responsibility in stopping assaults.  We must make every effort to increase awareness and prevention no matter where we live.

Human resource bulletin boards can no longer be the only place where respect is addressed as a value.  Congregations must strive to establish a climate of respect and teach others how to practice the love of Christ.  Churches are ideally places where victims of sexual assault receive the care and support that they need.

It is critical that churches, staff members, leaders, and parents take a stand for what is right during the month of April.  Together we can highlight sexual violence as a public health, human rights, and social justice issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts.

Here are five suggestions on how we can incorporate SAAM activities in the community.

1.  Create a resource list.  What shelters, crisis centers, and medical clinics exist in your community?  What organizations are available to help assault victims?  Make sure that people know who to contact should an incident occur.  Church leaders may need this person or organization on speed dial.  Be sure to have a resource listed on your cell phone should someone need immediate help.

2.  Talk to your youth groups.  Tell these new and growing Christians why all people deserve respect and courtesy.  Jesus should not be to only voice to share the Golden Rule.  Kids need to hear solid reminders based on our faith.  The world is always ready to give an alternate view on dating, relationships, and much, much, more.  As church leaders, it is our duty to educate the next generation.  Teach your youth that everyone deserves an environment of mutual respect, dignity, and fair treatment.

3.  Demonstrate what “right” looks like.  You may need to stop an inappropriate joke from being told or challenge wrong comments.  Don’t wink at wrongs when they happen around you.  Silence is not consent, but Christians are called to shine the light of Jesus.  Help to draw a bright line between right and wrong no matter where you are.

4.  Organize a collection drive.  Collect necessary items for the local YMCA, YWCA, domestic violence shelter, crisis center, medical clinic, or hospital.  They frequently need clothing, toiletries, and supplies when assault victims seek emergency shelter or medical care.  Make an effort to highlight the needs in your congregation.  It also reminds families that crisis centers, clinics, and shelters exist in the community.  Families can also take comfort in knowing that resources will be available should they need future assistance.

5.  Host an open house.  An open house provides an opportunity for your congregation to provide valuable information with members and the people in your neighborhood.  Make brochures and educational information available.  Be sure to provide information about volunteer opportunities.  Invite the people and organizations on your new resource list to set up a booth or share how they provide a community service.  Publicize the open house in newspapers, on radio stations, and online.

Broken families and relationships are too common in our age.  Congregations can be the loving, caring, and healing communities that assault victims need during a time of crisis.  Churches can also step up and address the issue to prevent future incidents.  We can make a difference locally and help to create a community-wide response.  Take the time to highlight SAAM and shine the light of Christ where you are.

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