Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $856,601)
Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM) is requesting funding to strengthen and expand its evidence-based primary violence prevention programming, Building Healthy Communities (BHC). STSM is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization which began serving survivors of sexual assault in 1983 in Columbia, South Carolina. Over time, the agency expanded to one of the largest sexual assault agencies in the southeastern United States, employing a team of 30. We serve thousands of individuals in five counties in central South Carolina including Richland, Lexington, Newberry, Sumter, and Clarendon. Our mission is to end sexual violence through advocacy, education, and supportive services. Services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, hospital accompaniment, personal and legal advocacy, individual and group counseling, and primary violence prevention programming. While offering services to survivors is essential, we recognize that taking a proactive approach and preventing violence is paramount. Historically, STSM has reached more than 10,000 community members annually through violence prevention education curricula. Designed for adults, middle and high school students, BHC is an evidence-based practice that prevents interpersonal and sexual violence.According to the National Institute of Health, bullying behavior is closely related to interpersonal and sexual violence. The 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System revealed that at least 23% of middle and high school students had been bullied. Rates are exponentially higher in underserved youth, especially in low income and rural areas. The BHC curriculum is designed specifically to interrupt these behaviors and eliminate violence altogether. The proposed project would 1) educate faculty, staff, and School Resource Officers (SROs) at selected schools in our service area to identify and prevent behaviors that perpetuate violence, 2) educate students at selected schools, 3) track program effectiveness by administering and tracking pre and post test results, and 4) increase access to trauma focused behavioral health resources. We anticipate educating approximately 2,500 students. We also anticipate training 150 adults as facilitators of BHC who, upon completion, can educate more children independently, but with technical assistance from STSM. Our ultimate goal is to achieve our vision of healthy survivors living in a community free of sexual violence.