Union County Introduces New Program To Help Prevent Violence

UNION COUNTY—Union County will launch a pilot program called Green Dot, a new bystander intervention program designed to address issues of personal violence such as harassment and stalking, domestic violence and sexual assault.

The pilot is being implemented at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School in partnership with the Union County Coalition to Prevent Sexual Violence, which is comprised of the Union County Rape Crisis Center, educators, members of law enforcement, social service providers, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and Union County residents.


The concept of Green Dot is to engage community members, through awareness, education and skills-practice, in positive behaviors that establish intolerance of violence. It employs a proactive approach that focuses on changing attitudes and identifying risk factors that lead to violence.

Facilitated by trained and certified staff frown the Rape Crisis Center, the pilot program will be carried out through the month of April. Students from the sophomore and junior classes, identified as peer leaders, have been selected to participate in the program.

With the permission of their parents, these students will participate in interactive exercises such as role-play. The activities will help the students connect to issues such as understanding consent and establishing appropriate boundaries. Students will also learn to recognize the kinds of behavior that perpetuate sexual violence, be empowered to safely intervene in an abusive situation and become leaders of the movement among their peers.

The Rape Crisis Center was seeking a new approach to address personal violence when their research revealed the Green Dot strategy. Green Dot was conceived at the University of Kentucky in the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center and has since been adopted by educators nationwide. Although initially designed for implementation on college campuses, Green Dot is suitable for both teens and adults.

The name of the program – Green Dot – was selected for its visual impact. A green dot symbolizes an action or expression of intolerance for personal violence. Each green dot neutralizes an occurrence of personal violence, represented by a red dot, much as the way an epidemic might be charted on a map.

Based on the results of the pilot program, the coalition anticipates making Green Dot an ongoing county-wide project.

The Rape Crisis Center anticipates providing training for local educators so that the program can be implemented autonomously in other schools and organizations. The program is flexible and can be employed as a single retreat activity or be spread out over 4 or 8 weeks. The program is also open to churches, nonprofit organizations and adult programs, as well as youth and educational institutions.

The Rape Crisis Center, part of the Union County Department of Human Services, has been serving Union County residents since 1984. It offers counseling for victims of sexual assault, as well as counseling for victims’ families and significant others. Volunteers from the Rape Crisis Center are trained to advocate on behalf of rape victims and accompany them to hospital emergency rooms, police interviews, and court proceedings.
High schools, colleges and organizations interested in implementing Green Dot are encouraged to contact the Rape Crisis Center, 1-908-233-7273.

To find out more about the Rape Crisis Center or to volunteer, visit www.unioncountyrapecrisiscenter.blogspot.com.

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