MISSOULA – This August, the University of Montana and the Rocky Mountain Justice Institute will offer an inaugural five-day course aimed at providing an overview of the issues surrounding sexual assault, best practices in responding and promising prevention practices. This innovative certificate program, which currently does not exist anywhere else in the nation, will be held Monday through Friday, Aug. 15-19, on the UM campus. It aims to change the sexual assault dialogue.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, sexual violence is a significant public health problem in the United States. In order to stop it from occurring, the CDC recommends comprehensive prevention strategies addressing factors at each of the levels that influence sexual violence: individual, relationship, community and society.
“Sexual assault is an endemic problem that we must address as a community,” said Kimberly Dudik, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Justice Institute and state representative. “With one in five women and one in 71 men being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, and the myriad personal and community problems these assaults cause, we must identify how to properly respond to and ultimately prevent sexual assaults. This class is a step forward to reaching this goal.”
Sexual assault is a widespread problem requiring new and innovative approaches in prevention and response. This new course, one of four certificate programs to be offered by the Rocky Mountain Justice Institute related to social justice, addresses a growing issue and sought-after area of study. The primary goal is to provide expert education on how to prevent sexual violence and how to appropriately respond as a member of a law enforcement, justice or education community.
Brooke Marshall, director of the Montana Safe Schools Center at the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences, and co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Justice Institute, said the course was designed with the intention of continuing to move this conversation forward in Missoula, and across the state of Montana.
“Our desire is to build upon the work that has been done by University officials, faculty and staff, along with campus and local enforcement agencies, the county attorney’s office, and many others, to be a model for other campuses and communities in the area of sexual assault response and prevention,” Marshall said.
This unique training has approved graduate credits from UM, as well as professional continuing educational credits (CLE, CEU, OPI and POST). Two university credits have been approved. This class is appropriate for attorneys, social workers, counselors, educators, law enforcement, administrators, community advocates and the campus and general community.