$2 million grant helps initiative against violence to childrenIt’s a scene you’ve probably witnessed at least once: You’re in a store and not far from you a child launches into a tantrum. But it isn’t the kicking and screaming that startles you as much as the parent’s verbally and even physically abusive response.
By: Mary Jo Hotzler, Forum Communications , The Jamestown Sun
It’s a scene you’ve probably witnessed at least once: You’re in a store and not far from you a child launches into a tantrum. But it isn’t the kicking and screaming that startles you as much as the parent’s verbally and even physically abusive response.
Do you say anything to the parent?
For many, the answer is no. Maybe they feel it’s none of their business or maybe it’s a simple case of North Dakota nice.
Safer Tomorrows is aiming to change that attitude.
The sense of the community should be that it’s OK to interact with that parent and say, “that’s not what we do here in Grand Forks,” said Pete Haga, the city’s community/ government relations officer.
The city is part of the Safer Tomorrows effort, which aims to address children’s exposure to violence throughout the county. Monday kicked off Safer Tomorrows Week, and as part of that, the group has launched a new website — www.safertomorrows.com — to give people the tools and resources to help make the community a safer place for children.
Around 40 community organizations — public and private, urban and rural, secular and faith-based — are working together on the mission to change attitudes about what’s acceptable and to help the community realize its role in creating safe environments for kids.
Safer Tomorrows is one of four projects in the nation awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Defending Childhood Initiative.
“It’s an unprecedented collaboration,” said Julie Christianson, Safer Tomorrows coordinator. “We want every person in the county to know what to do (in the face of violence) and where to turn for help.”
The Community Violence and Intervention Center, where Christianson is based, is a leader of the effort along with the city, public schools and Lutheran Social Services.
Though there’s a special focus this week on Safer Tomorrows, several efforts already have been under way on this front for several months, and organizers say it’s just the beginning.
A Safer Tomorrows mailer recently was sent to everyone in the county, and there is an informational insert in the September edition of the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce newsletter. Still on the horizon: proclamations by the mayor and other officials and a wrap on a Grand Forks city bus later.
The schools also have been involved with the Safer Tomorrows effort in recent months. Educators have been trained on how to take a more proactive approach to bullying through the Olweus Bullying Prevention program, according to Jody Thompson, assistant superintendent for Grand Forks Public Schools.
“Prevention is the spoke of the wheel we’re involved with,” Thompson said. “That’s what the schools are all about.”
Mary Jo Hotzler is a reporter
at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.