Blackburn Center Prevention Initiatives in Schools and Colleges

In support of the agency’s commitment to primary prevention, Blackburn Center works to shift the focus on risk reduction – e.g., what individuals can do to reduce the possibility of abuse – to community engagement on the ways our culture and society accept and promote violent behavior. The agency is moving beyond community awareness to community action in its programming.

This work has five main components:

Partner with College Campuses

Blackburn Center partners with Seton Hill University and the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg to address rape culture and attitudes that perpetuate domestic and sexual violence. Campus projects also include strengthening the response to incidents on campus. Each institution also commits to policy change, and faculty, staff, and students are involved in incorporating prevention and culture change into coursework across disciplines. Surveys measure changes in attitudes from beginning freshman to graduating seniors. The survey assesses the students’ understanding of sexual and domestic violence issues, including their understanding of root causes; attitudes and beliefs about gender norms; and their likelihood to blame the victim rather than hold offenders accountable. Primary prevention activities are informed by survey results.

Work with Schools

Blackburn Center knows that talking to young people about abuse prevention can’t wait until college. They provide programming in almost all Westmoreland County school districts, and have developed curriculum focused on primary prevention (e.g., media literacy). In addition, the agency offers an eight session curriculum for middle schools with a primary prevention focus.

Engage the Community

The Media Hurts website and blog, social media strategies (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), public engagement events (Walk a Mile in Her Shoes) advertising, and community education/discussion groups all invite community members to talk about how media and cultural messages promote violence, as well as how concerned individuals can take action.

Incorporate Prevention into All Services

Blackburn Center finds opportunities in all aspects of its work to address primary prevention. For example, even when the agency is training first responders about responding to the needs of victims, they incorporate a prevention approach.

Insure internal agency congruency

Blackburn Center has developed a Position Statement on Social Transformation: Ending Gender Violence and has committed to incorporating initiatives in the agency’s strategic plan and examining and updating agency policies and procedures to insure congruence with this statement. Examples include compensation practices; competency expectations for staff, board and volunteers.