The LeeShore Center Community Survey revealed raised awareness within the Kenai Peninsula Community for the Green Dot violence prevention strategy, which launched this month.
Executive director of the LeeShore Center Cheri Smith said she was pleased with the feedback and number of participants. While the number of participants is down from the last survey completed three years ago, it was still significantly higher than in 2008 when 108 people filled it out, Smith said.
With the launch of the Green Dot, etc. on the Kenai Peninsula Borough this month, the survey also created a baseline to gauge the effectiveness of outreach in the future, Smith said. Almost 30 percent of the community already knows about the initiative, which is a good sign since we just started talking about it, she said.
The program uses the premise that any one has the power to intervene in a potentially violent situation, whether by calling the police or simply by speaking up, Smith said.
Kenai was one of six areas chosen to develop a specialized program for its community. The others include Anchorage, Bethel, Fairbanks, Homer and Prince of Wales Island- Klawock, Hydaburg, and Craig- according to the Office of Governor Sean Parnell.
Results also provided analysis on demographics. Men completed 20 percent, and women 80 percent of the returned surveys, Smith said. It is good to know both men and women in the area think domestic violence is a concern and a relevant issue, she said.
Smith said a portion of the 409 responses to this year’s survey were community members who had no previous contact with LeeShore, which is a good indication of affective outreach, she said.
In the past decade, surveys have consistently revealed the Kenai Peninsula community is unaware of the youth violence prevention program that reaches 150 schools and over 2,500 students across the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Before receiving the results of the survey, Smith said she hoped the numbers would improve.
In fact, the numbers are down from previous years. In 2011 40 percent said they knew about the prevention education. This year only 29 percent said they were informed, she said.
“We do a lot of advertising,” Smith said, “apparently not enough.”
Prevention education is a vital component of stopping the cycle, Smith said. Domestic abuse is a learned behavior, making sure parents also know these facts is equally important, she said.
“The effects of bullying in schools are pretty destructive,” Smith said. “These things stay with a child for life, unless there is some type of intervention. We want it to be something we can talk about as a community.”
To move forward, Smith said she is tossing around the possibility of hosting some community forums. She said it is critical to inform community members of LeeShore’s childcare assistance program, community awareness workshops, batterer intervention program, and youth violence intervention program to decrease violence within the community.
“I am happy so many have heard of Green Dot,” said LeeShore Shelter Manager Karen Stroh. However, she was also disappointed about the lack of awareness surrounding youth prevention education.
Stroh said the classes are a full time job for Dawn Musgrove. Musgrove is an excellent teacher on dating violence, sexual assault, healthy relationships, bullying and cyber bullying, she said.
Local feedback is necessary not only for receiving funding, but vital to improving the quality of information and services LeeShore provides in the community, Stroh said.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org