Pennsylvania has a new round of funding for the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education program under the Wolf Administration. The department was awarded $1.2 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to continue to work on education and prevention of sexual violence and unhealthy relationships.
“My administration continues its commitment to preventing sexual violence and to educating all Pennsylvanians on how to remain safe and healthy in relationships,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “This funding will reach Pennsylvanians across the state by way of the dozens of rape crisis centers that provide round-the-clock confidential services to help victims of assault and that are working to eliminate sexual violence in all of its forms.”
The department partners with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) to support evidence-based strategies to prevent sexual violence and other violent behaviors before they occur. Through CDC funding, extensive training and technical assistance is provided to Pennsylvania’s local rape crisis centers. These centers also have the ability to develop and implement prevention strategies that target specific populations within their communities, including schools, college and university campuses, and other partners.
“We all play a role in helping to promote healthy relationships,” PCAR CEO Karen Baker said. “Rape crisis centers throughout the commonwealth work to teach skills like consent and communication, empathy and how to recognize and respect boundaries. At home, caregivers should have age-appropriate conversations with their children to discuss the characteristics that contribute to relationships that are respectful and uplifting. Collectively, we want to create an environment in our households and the communities we live in where our teens know it is OK to ask questions and expect real answers. We are thankful for the Department of Heath’s commitment to the safety of children and the prevention of sexual abuse across the commonwealth.”
The Wolf Administration has a consistent record of support for programs to combat sexual violence and assault. Three years ago, Governor Tom Wolf established It’s On Us PA, the nation’s first statewide campaign to address sexual assault in K-12 schools and college campuses, based on an initiative championed by President Barack Obama. The Wolf Administration has invested a total of nearly $3 million for It’s On Us grants over the past three years. In January, Governor Tom Wolf announced additional funding for the It’s On Us initiative as it enters its fourth year combatting campus sexual assault.
Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. According to the CDC, teens who are victims of violence in high school are at higher risk for being victimized during college and throughout their lifetimes. Victims of teen dating violence are also more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety or engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as using tobacco, drugs and alcohol.
Pennsylvanians should be aware of the signs of unhealthy relationships and should set examples of healthy and respectful relationships for young people across the state. The “Healthy Adolescents Promoted by Partnerships for Youth” program works with community-based adolescent and reproductive health providers across the state to accomplish three goals:
- Decrease the incidence of adolescent relationship abuse in Pennsylvania through improved case identification and clinic-based direct assessments and interventions;
- Increase adolescent health and safety by promoting healthy relationships; and
- Improve core and other community partner’s capacity to prevent adolescent relationship abuse.