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Empowering women through awareness, education, violence prevention and self-defense techniques.

New Projects For My Body...My Life...

REAL (Relationship Education and Awareness for Life) Men...

REAL Men... is the male program which has been developed for men, ranging from 13 to 93. This program utilizes many of the same multi-disciplinary approaches found in My Body…My Life…, but is patterned to address educational and developmental issues that are related to men. The full program addresses awareness, empowerment, relationships, self-esteem, abuse, alcohol, drugs, internet and texting. In this program, we promote respect, non-violent bystander interventions, communication, listening skills and facilitating a change in cultural bias and acceptance rather than physical self-defense techniques.

We have instructed this program over the past few years and hope to have it fully developed, produced and published by the end of this summer. We address many of the same topics in this program as in My Body...My Life..., as well as address non-violent bystander interventions and help men to understand the dynamics of violence against women, the detrimental effects upon the lives of women and address the victimization of men as well.

2012 Assessment For My Body...My Life...

Section 1: Summary

“My Body…My Life…” is a program collaboratively developed by law enforcement, mental health and educational professionals designed to empower women thirteen and above to successfully navigate life’s challenges now and in the future. The goal of the program is to empower women through awareness, education, violence prevention and self-defense techniques. Specifically, the program empowers women over the age of 12 by:

Teaching participants about violence against women;

Providing simple and effective techniques to address each form of violence in an immediate and appropriate way;

Fostering an understanding of what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate actions, behaviors and beliefs in the development of health relationships; and

Demonstrating effective strategies participants can use to protect her body and her life.

The program teaches participants to identify simple verbal and physical cues and use counters to avoid violence and/or remove themselves from volatile situations. “My Body…My Life…” addresses awareness, empowerment, positive relationships, good self-esteem, abuse prevention, effects of alcohol and drug use on decision making, risks associated with internet use and texting, and self-defense. Visual, physical and auditory aids are employed to increase participant understanding, development and retention. Learning aids include ‘intoxication’ goggles, training videos, role playing, etc. Juvenile participants are required to provide a completed permission slip signed by their parent/guardian; or juveniles may be accompanied by their parent/guardian. Physical techniques will be demonstrated upon each student, by the instructors and with other students. Direct language, both in presentation and format reflect the seriousness of the topics, while humor, fun and physical participation increase student understanding and engagement with the curriculum, improves information retention and successful use of strategies and techniques.

The curriculum is comprised of ten modules, requiring between thirty to sixty minutes per session. Complete instructions for implementation are provided. The program’s structure allows modules to be implemented as needed to fit the requirements of adopting organizations, instructors and police departments either in daylong sessions or in hourly increments across several days or weeks. The program’s flexible presentation encourages adopters to collaboratively develop partnerships to identify, assess and address specific problems facing women in that community.

In order to become certified, instructors are required to successfully complete thirty-two hours of training. Training includes three days of classroom instruction and one interactive field day. The interactive field day allows participants to teach the entire ten module program and be graded on their ability to present to the program to the public.

Section 2: Description

A. Scanning:

Due to an increasing number of physical and sexual assaults reported by female students, a local school principal contacted a police officer who was known to be a self-defense instructor. The administrator was interested in the development of a program that taught female students self-defense techniques and awareness strategies. The officer received approval from the Norman Police Department to work collaboratively with the school to develop a departmental rape prevention program that also met the needs of this specific middle school.

The initial program was implemented in a midsized middle school. The program was well received by participants and school administration which led to a second request to expand the program by incorporating additional needs identified by a second school administrator and counseling staff. Due to an increase in the reporting of inappropriate relationships involving sex, alcohol, drugs and abuse by female students, school officials requested that the scope of the original program be increased to address both the physical aspects of self-defense and a myriad of issues associated with inappropriate relationships ( see appendix for the power point of this program). Through the unique qualities of the officer involved and a committed school administrator, the Norman Police Department has successfully expanded the program to meet community driven requests for an integrated, multidisciplinary prevention tool that encompasses components from law enforcement, mental health and education. Specifically, the developing officer is not only a 29 year veteran of the police department but also holds a Master’s Degree in Human Relations, with a focus on counseling and psychotherapy and is a practicing Licensed Practical Counselor in the State of Oklahoma. This officer has become the department’s Champion for abuse prevention and community outreach in this area.

A second expansion of the program occurred in 2006 with program implementation in all Middle Schools in the Norman School District and the addition of a second instructor. 2006 is the year utilized as the base line for comparative analysis of the program. By 2011, the demand for the program exceeded the available resources and additional officers were added as instructors with program adopters growing to include both high schools in the Norman Public School system and in the Little Axe school system. Further the program has increased the scope of targeted participants from middle school age girls to women 13 years of age or older and has been adopted by community groups serving university students and the Norman community in general. It is important to note that the program is continually evolving based on the newly identified needs of the target population on this issue.

B. Analysis:

A wide variety of data and information sources were used to analyze the problem. Open and meaningful discussions were held between the police department, the local school system and other local organizations to help identify issues and contributing factors. Collaborators included faculty and staff with Norman Public Schools, officers and crime analyst with the Norman Police Department, staff from Norman’s Women’s Resource and Cleveland County Youth and Family Centers, university faculty and staff specializing in sexual abuse and community outreach. Additional sources of data and support utilized in studying the problem include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ), the National Organization for Women (NOW), the National Crime Victimization Survey’s (NCVS), the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Surveys (YRBSS), and the National Violence Against Women survey’s (NVAW).

The City of Norman, Oklahoma is a suburb of Oklahoma City and has a population of over 110,000 citizens. It is also home to the University of Oklahoma which has over 20,000 students and a large work force, many of whom are not included in the population estimate. Rape is one of the most underreported crimes in the community, and across the United States. Norman’s status as a university community likely exacerbates both the occurrence and under-reporting of the female targeted violence. There are many reasons associated with underreporting which this program specifically addresses and advocates the reporting of all incidents.

National estimates suggest that every two minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted (RAINN) and 22 million women have been raped in their lifetime (National Intimate Partners 2010) with only about 26 percent of all rapes or attempted rapes reported (USDOJ). Estimates from the National College Women and Sexual Victimization Study (NCWSVS) indicate that between one and four college women experience a completed or attempted rape while attending school (Facts about Violence 2012; Fisher 2000). Based on NCV interviews, females age 12 and older experienced an estimated 182,000 rapes or sexual assaults in 2008 (US Bureau of Justice Statistics 10/23/2009).

Locally, it is estimated that the incidence rate of rape in Oklahoma is 30 percent higher than the national average with less than 50 percent reported. Further, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reports that 75 percent of rapes in the state involve minors (persons under the age of 18) with about one in 15 date rapes involving violence. Additionally, almost ten percent of Oklahoma high school students report being victims of dating violence each year (Oklahoma Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance 2009). Further, analysis of Norman specific crime and YRBS data revealed that the reported amount of sexual abuse and violence was increasing and is more extensive than reports indicated or that people were aware.

Feedback from students has been used throughout the development of this program and remains an integral component. Feedback was received on several levels and included questions to obtain information on learning, knowledge retention, strengths and weaknesses, and student recommendation of the class to a friend. Analysis of information provided through student feedback and community stakeholders revealed that the local characteristics of rape followed traditional patterns where most incidents were situational or date rapes with the most frequent time of occurrence during evenings and weekends. Issues surrounding the use and availability of alcohol and drugs (i.e., the abundance of alcohol and drugs, number of alcohol establishments and parties), were also found to be a major contributing factor in the poor decisions made by the victims and offenders. National studies also suggest that the time of day and location need to be discussed with 67 percent of rapes or attempted rapes occurring between the hours of 6:00pm and 6:00am (New Mexico Clearing House on Sexual Abuse and Assault Services) and 55 percent occurring at or near a friend, relative, or neighbor’s home.

What are the costs of ignoring a problem that affects millions of women and their families? Rape, sexual assault and violence against women can create numerous difficulties for the individual victimized by the criminal act. The traumatic effects suffered by victims of attacks are both physical and psychological. Short term suffering can include fear, anxiety, guilt, blame, hostility and feelings of helplessness, loss of self-esteem and/or loss of control. Nearly all victims experience some form of psychological trauma associated with the attack, with many victims reporting symptoms associated with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, leading to long term suffering for the victim and their families.

The earlier the onset of victimization, the more likely long term psychological effects will be experienced. These effects can range from depression and fear/anxiety to the creation of an environment where the victim develops inappropriate coping mechanisms, such as suffering and increases the chance of recurring victimization, or even developing actions and behaviors where the victim becomes an aggressor toward others, in an attempt to gain control of their fear and anxiety. Victimization also can lead to inappropriate life choices and patterns for the individual. Victimization can create an environment that can lead to a reduction of socio-economic status for the individual due to the effects suffered by the victim as well as the development of a culture of violence within the victim’s family and the continued acceptance of victimization by the individual.

Prior to the development of “My Body…My Life…” the Norman Police Department relied on traditional, reactive educational approaches practiced by the majority of police departments which focused on teaching self-defense tactics. Successful self-defense training requires an extensive time commitment to develop required rote memory skills and muscle memory for proper utilization. A larger issue with a sole focus of prevention training on self-defense was that it often was responsible for the introduction of the violence into incidents of rape. Additionally, these programs tend to focus on adult women, with little thought or education provided to younger women of school age. Community organizations tended to rely on traditional rape prevention programs as well.

C. Response:

After reviewing all available information, collaborators determined key issues that needed to be addressed in the curriculum included (1) the use of alcohol/drugs by offenders, (2) situational, temporal and environmental opportunity, (3) social pressure on the offender and victim to engage in harmful and/or deviant behavior, (4) the victim’s lack of understanding and knowledge of risks, (5) self-esteem and self-image, (6) effects of alcohol and drug use on decision making, (7) interpersonal and relationship skills, (8) the provision of prevention programming for younger women, (9) a need for inclusive training that addresses same gender issues, (10) the need for attendees to achieve individual empowerment whether they are married or single, and 11) all forms of violence against women.

Potential responses included the expansion of sexual education programs that were already being used in the schools and community or traditional self-defense and rape prevention that could include material similar to the program eventually developed by the Norman Police Department. A major problem with existing programs was the failure to target age specific groups. Also, the public schools zero tolerance policy on violence was counterproductive to many of the traditional self-defense based approaches. The most current form of the “My Body…My Life…” program was designed to address these issues and incorporate the four levels of prevention listed below:

Primary:

Prevents healthy people from ever experiencing traumatic events that may affect them for the rest of their life.

Secondary:

Halts or slows the progression of a problem at its earliest stages of risk/occurrence.

Tertiary:

Reduces the negative impact of existing problems by working with individuals to improve functioning.

Quaternary:

Try to prevent relapse into violence situations. The people in this level have already experienced and been effected by a traumatic event. The program tries to stop further damage or involvement.

Further, the Norman Police Department wanted to ensure that the adopted program addressed issues of legality and reduced the occurrence of crime or harmful situations. The selected program would be administered within the public schools, in compliance with the school system’s policies and conform to the expected norms of the community. This program is expected to reduce long term effects on victims, increase communication between victims and authorities, and assist in identifying, preventing and resolving harmful situations.

The “My Body…My Life…” program was collaboratively developed by law enforcement, mental health and educational professionals to address all the needs identified through the analysis process. The program teaches participants to identify simple verbal and physical cues and use counters to avoid violence and/or remove themselves from volatile situations. “My Body…My Life…” addresses awareness ( see appendix for awareness triangle utilized in the training), empowerment, positive relationships, good self-esteem, abuse prevention, effects of alcohol and drug use on decision making, risks associated with internet use and texting, and self-defense. Visual, physical and auditory aids are employed to increase participant understanding, development and retention.

For 2012, the program was expanded to all of the High Schools in the Norman Public school system and to a second public school system. Based on the attendance rate of the first semester that included the high schools it is projected that the number of attendees will double for the 2012 calendar year. The Oklahoma State Department of Education observed the program this year and is evaluating the possible expansion of “My Body…My Life…” to all public school districts within the State of Oklahoma.

Measurable objectives are difficult when a goal is the reduction of rapes or the prevention of harmful events. The program tries to educate women about rape and situational factors that lead to violence against women and will thus reduce the incidence of occurrence. The Norman Police Department wanted to achieve acceptance of the program by the school system and then expand to all middle and high schools in the Norman Public school system, other school systems within the city and the state of Oklahoma. This would be accomplished through a partnership with the school systems and the State Department of Education. Through this partnership important feedback through involvement of students, teachers, counselors and principals would be achieved.

The cost to implement any program is always an issue for police departments. This program requires the presence of at least two training officers and one female teacher from the school at all trainings within a school setting. Compared to traditional programs, “My Body…My Life…” utilizes on duty officers, school facilities, is shorter in duration, with higher completion rates, resulting in a lower cost program. No money was provided by any of the partners for implementation of the program.

Prior to implementation, collaborators spent one year planning and consulting to develop a program that met the ideals and needs identified during the assessment. The program needed to comply with school policies and gain departmental acceptance. Successful implementation of this program requires additional time for officers to train, plan and teach. Some of the difficulties encountered during the implementation of “My Body…My Life…” was the coordination needed between agencies. The agencies needed confirmation for the need to expand the program and to expand the number of instructors. Another obstacle was overcoming predetermined prejudices against the new program and initial resistance to implementation by those that thought it was “the same old thing”.

The Norman Public School System and the Norman Police Department were the initial partners in responding with this program. Input from the target population and other community partners helped smooth the transition during implementation. If the program expands statewide the Oklahoma Department of Education will be involved in accomplishing the implementation. Local media such as the Norman Transcript (see appendix for article), and FOX 25 television ( video link provided in the appendix) have provided news articles outlining the program to educate the community about the benefits of this program. The media response and positive responses from attendees led to higher demand for the program from a broader range of community organizations serving the targeted population.

D. Assessment:

The program has been well received with increasing demand for the program and instructor training from outside departments (see appendix fro attendance graph). The program is being taught in every middle school and high school in Norman, the Little Axe public school district and is being considered for a statewide implementation. In addition to educational and social service organizations, demand from the faith based community is expanding. These increased demands outstrip current staffing resources.

Attendees are surveyed at the end of all trainings. One of the survey items used as a value question asks participants if they would recommend the program to a friend. Results have always indicated that 100% of the respondents would do so. Further, crime statistics from the Norman Police Department indicate that the percentage of all reported rapes that were juvenile victims is lower than that of adult victims with a decreasing rate from 2007 to present (See graphs in appendix). The gap between adult and juvenile victim rates could be a positive indication of the effect of the program. The program encourages reporting of rapes or attempted rapes. So this positive trend includes an educational component of increased reporting.

The evaluation of the program involved the schools were the training was provided, administered to participants and analysis by police department and state and local school systems. Additionally the Norman Public Schools provides YRBS data specific to their school system. The YRBS is conducted in the Norman Public Schools every three years. However, analyzed data is not reported by gender. In the 2005-2006 YRBS survey, one control question addresses sexual violence by asking if they had ever been forced to have sexual intercourse. Almost ten percent of respondents indicated that they had been forced to have sexual intercourse. Three years after the program had been in the middle schools this rate had reduced to 8.2%.

Possible strategies being considered to strengthen the program include utilization of social media to educate and increase awareness in a wider audience of women and their family members (link to NPD You Tube video is in the appendix). Anecdotal accounts of women sharing law enforcement based warnings and notices regarding female victimization suggest that the use of social networking sites, group email blasts and texts could prove to be effective and well received by the target population.

There was very little concern about the displacement of situational rapes as they usually involve known acquaintances with environmental factors playing pivotal roles in assaults. In situations where you have a very motivated offender, the potential exists for displacement to other locations as one of the objectives of the program is to prevent victims from putting themselves in vulnerable situations.

As with any committed effort, quality improvement in the form of continual evaluation and improvement is required. The yearly progression and development of students ensures that there will be a new group of youth in need of training. Further as the program expands into the community there will be a larger demographic to serve. Finally, the factors and specific environments that place women at risk are moving targets with youth culture. Many of the digital forms of victimization being faced today could not have been envisioned 10 years ago.

Section 3: Agency and Officer Information:

Authors:

Lieutenant Jim Keesee, MBA, Special Services Division NPD

Sergeant Robert Moore, MHR, BHRS, LPC, Program developer, NPD

Key Project Team Members:

Sergeant Robert Moore MHR, BHRS, LPC

Master Police Officer Marcus Savage

Darien Quattlebaum-Moore MEd