How can sport make sexual violence prevention a reality?

By: Julie Patrick, RALIANCE, Alan Heisterkamp & Michael Fleming, University of Northern Iowa Center for Violence Prevention

When it comes to preventing sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse, RALIANCE and the Center for Violence Prevention are on the same page: building strong community partnerships is essential to ending sexual violence in one generation.

That’s what Drs. Alan Heisterkamp and Michael Fleming at the University of Northern Iowa will present as part of RALIANCE’s track at the 2018 National Sexual Assault Conference in Anaheim, CA. Prevention has to start during a person’s formative years and be repeated frequently, in various community settings they inhabit.

Their presentation will highlight one goal within Iowa’s broader state strategic plan to expand the conversation around preventing sexual violence: using youth sports experiences to teach healthy behaviors to thousands of young people throughout Iowa.

“Our initial goal was to reach out and partner with enough secondary school coaches across the state who could, in turn, reach 5,000 male, high school athletes with a program designed to instill personal responsibility, promote respectful behavior, and prevent sexual violence and relationship abuse,” the presenters said. “With the help of our state’s high school athletic association, we surpassed our goal is less than one year!”

With the help of a RALIANCE Impact Grant, their project called upon leadership among men and boys, utilizing male role models in the field of sports as a vehicle for positive change.

The effort looks at effective policies and practices, strong collaboration between and among local and state networks who serve youth and families, leadership to change practices when needed, and access to ongoing professional development and training on evidence-based practices.

And what will Drs. Heisterkamp and Fleming do next?

“Moving forward, we’ll focus on developing effective lines of communication, technical support and leadership opportunities for the coaches who are taking up the challenge to use their platform to transform the lives of young men through sports.”

Learn more about this presentation and the ways prevention is happening in communities across the country in our searchable online RALIANCE Impact Grant portal. If you’re interested in how sport can be part of the solution to sexual violence, visit our Sport+Prevention Center to learn more.

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