“It is easier to build strong children than to fix broken men.”
Recognizing that domestic violence and sexual assault are issues that involve both men and women, and that incorporating men in the prevention aspect of both is critical to long-term success, the Engaging Men initiative at Safe Futures was established in 2012. This initiative grew out of an earlier program, Men Against Domestic Violence, which has aided Safe Futures in raising awareness and in fund raising for many years.
To prevent domestic violence and sexual assault, early intervention in the life of potential perpetrators is essential. The Engaging Men initiative synergizes with ongoing early intervention programs of Safe Futures such as Violence is Preventable (VIP), Anti-Bullying, Safe Dates and Healthy Relationships, all of which are targeted at school children from K-12.
The Engaging Men initiative, though broad-based in intent, initially targets high school athletic directors and coaches. Athletes are generally looked up to in high schools and can influence the climate in the school through their attitudes and actions. Coaches can set the tone for respect in the school by instructing and modeling respectful behavior toward women to these athletes, setting strict guidelines for acceptable behavior and choosing their words of encouragement carefully to avoid intentional or unintended negative references with regard to women.
A number of these programs are being used throughout the country, and Safe Futures’ Engaging Men initiative is currently exploring which to pursue in our region.
Additional efforts to engage men in the prevention of domestic violence include working with fathers to equip them with the tools they need to handle the stresses of fatherhood and the pressures placed on their marriage or partnership. We are currently working to expand available services in the New London area by collaborating with other agencies.
Engaging Men is also involved at the state level to increase awareness, influence legislation and encourage funding for initiatives that engage men in the prevention of both domestic violence and sexual assault.
If you are interested in joining this group as a volunteer, whether male or female, you are most welcome.
For more information: Contact Melva O’Neill, Community Engagement Coordinator, at moneill@SafeFuturesCT.org or (860) 447-0366 X212.