With sexual assault being a hot topic in the news recently, the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault is inviting students to join the initiative for sexual violence prevention.

Sarah Bear, the NJCASA's community engagement specialist, says from now until Oct. 31, the coalition is accepting applications from students who are passionate about sexual violence prevention, who are committed to enhancing the discourse around sexual violence and interested in contributing to a statewide prevention report.

The goal is to harness student voices from across the state to inform existing prevention efforts in both grades K-12 and college and university campuses, said Bear.

Students will organize listening sessions on their campuses about what prevention messaging they are receiving on campus and comparing it to the messaging they're receiving from K-12.

She said the information will then be pooled together into a report that will be modeled after the 2017 Campus Sexual Assault past report to strengthen existing prevention efforts in New Jersey.

New Jersey has a sexual violence crisis center in every county and in addition to the critical services they provide to survivors and victims of sexual assault, they also go out to the local high schools and college campuses to do prevention messaging.

According to the Rutgers Campus Climate of 2014 report, more than 20 percent of first year female students experienced sexual violence before they even got to college.vSo Bears said prevention needs to start early.

Bear said they are also encouraging students to apply in pairs or in groups because there is power in numbers.

The time dedicated to the initiative depends upon each student, said Bear. Besides organizing informal listening sessions on their campus, all students will participate in a one to two-hour virtual meeting each month for seven months. During those meetings, the students will share updates on their progress, learn more about current issues pertaining to campus sexual assault and come up with the best ideas for sexual violence prevention.

To apply to the initiative, go to https://njcasa.org/studentinitiative

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