Prevention rocks! Minnesota Summit

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bottom line is preventionOver 200 people gathered for the Minnesota Summit to Prevent Sexual Violence on December 3-4, 2009 in St. Paul, MN.  The attendees included the typical people who attend events about sexual violence: representatives of local rape crisis centers, public health officials, people from the criminal justice system, and the occasional political figure.

However, this gathering was very different. Many people came to explore how preventing sexual violence is their business. There were faith leaders, athletic group leaders, hoteliers, restaurant owners, business leaders, artists and many elected officials.

The intent of the summit was clear: “The bottom line is prevention.” As Patty Wetterling said, “It is time to address the environment that feeds sexual violence in order to inoculate our culture against it.”

Together, they discussed more than problem of sexual violence, but also explored the solution.  Actually, they did more than explore the solution; they made commitments to take action to prevent sexual violence.

This gathering focused on how to develop activities to prevent sexual violence.  Going beyond education, participants considered what policies their organizations could take to advance prevention.  With laptop computers at each table and each person having an individual device to weigh in on polls (with the results shown instantly), people shared ideas on what their next steps will

Building on the strategic plan for sexual violence prevention created earlier in the year by the Minnesota’s Department of Health, the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault organized this Summit in partnership with many state departments (Health, Education, Corrections, Public Safety and Human Services) and several funders (Bush Foundation, Otto Bremer Foundation and the Mayo Clinic.)

PreventConnect recorded many of speakers and will release podcasts of these recordings in early 2010 when the organizers will release a report summarizing what actions will be taken.

What will you and your organization do to prevent sexual violence?

David Lee

David S. Lee, MPH, is the Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) where he provides training and technical assistance on prevention. David manages the national project Prevention Connection, an online community of violence against women prevention practitioners, funders, researchers and activists. For over 29 years David has worked in efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

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