LACASA launches awareness campaign in area high schools

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LACASA Center is partnering with high schools throughout Livingston County this month to increase awareness about the issues surrounding sexual assault and bystander intervention.

Members of LACASA’s Teen Advisory Council, comprised of student representatives from local high schools, developed an original campaign to be utilized during the month’s activities. The campaign is titled “The Bystander Effect: How will you respond?”

“Our council has been working hard to develop a campaign that would resonate with teens,” said Kayla Dillon, LACASA’s youth prevention educator. “We want to help teens understand the various forms of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. We also want to teach them how important it is to speak up, take action and make a difference.”

Dillon and LACASA’s Community Education team will give presentations in area schools and provide informational materials and resources. Posters will be hung in restrooms with contact information for LACASA’s Sexual Assault Response Center.

“The majority of sexual assaults are never reported,” said Dillon. “We are working to change that in Livingston County. Our “Bystander Effect” campaign is intended to provide a powerful message in a simple format.”

The teen campaign is presented in conjunction with LACASA’s community-wide “Call Us First” campaign, which urges victims of sexual assault to reach out for private, confidential help from specially-trained professionals at LACASA, Dillon said.

“We want to create awareness among our young people that there is help available for them close to home,” said Dillon. “When teens are educated about these issues, they are better able to make positive decisions for themselves and for their friends following a sexual assault.”

Schools participating in the March awareness activities include, Brighton High School, Flex Tech High School, Fowlerville High School, Hartland High School, Howell High School, Howell Freshman Campus, Kensington Woods High School, LEGACY, Pinckney High School, and Work Skills Academy.

Members of LACASA’s Teen Advisory Council include: Josh Baylis, Reanne Szafranski and Emmaly Badgett of Howell High School; Sarah Mellendorf of Brighton High School; Maddie Clough of Fowlerville High School; Anna Dietrich and Erin Casey of Fenton High School; and student assistant, Bailey Brown, formerly of Fowlerville, now attending Saginaw Valley State University.

Student organizations from each school are helping increase awareness about the month-long program by wearing campaign stickers and manning information tables.

Senior seminars are planned later this spring to educate college-bound students about sexual assaults on college campuses and the resources available that help protect themselves and their friends.

“We want all of our students to be armed with information and prepared to respond to unexpected situations that come their way,” said Dillon. “Teens who are informed are better able to safeguard themselves and their friends.”

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