EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa., April 25, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera facilitated the final It's On Us PA roundtable at the East Stroudsburg School District Administration Building today, engaging with district administrators, teachers, and students who highlighted the district's ongoing efforts to promote awareness about and prevent sexual assault.
"In the past many of the discussions about sexual assault awareness and prevention have been geared toward college and university communities," Rivera said. "It's On Us PA has been expanding those discussions to the K to 12 community since the campaign's inception, to empower students to recognize what safe and healthy relationships look like and the role they can play in changing the culture to prevent sexual violence."
The It's On Us PA campaign, launched by Governor Tom Wolf at an event in January, builds on a national initiative started by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in 2014 to bring awareness to and prevent sexual assault.
In Pennsylvania, the goals are to:
- Improve awareness, prevention, reporting, and response systems in schools, colleges and universities to better serve all students.
- Remove/reduce barriers that prevent survivors from reporting and/or accessing vital resources by creating a more consistent, empowering reporting process for student survivors of sexual violence.
- Demonstrate significant, proactive, and sustainable leadership by challenging Pennsylvania's education leaders as well as students, teachers, faculty, staff, families, and communities to pledge to foster a safe and respectful campus culture.
The East Stroudsburg event was the first of the campaign to be held at a Pennsylvania school district; earlier roundtables had been hosted by community colleges, and state and state-related universities. Students at East Stroudsburg High School South have been involved in educating their classmates about the topic of sexual assault, and the event highlighted the ongoing initiatives at the school.
"Governor Wolf's It's On Us PA initiative is an important step in drawing attention to the issue especially in our K to 12 schools," said Sharon Laverdure, East Stroudsburg School District superintendent. "Educating students about their role in preventing sexual violence is critical."
"The students who attended today's event have been engaged in and leading the discussion around sexual assault in their school," Trish Tiernan, English and gender studies teacher at East Stroudsburg High School South, said. "We are so proud of their efforts and of how the entire community has supported these students in bringing awareness to this important issue."
The It's On Us PA campaign is a partnership between several state agencies and organizations including Governor Tom Wolf's Office, the Departments of Education and Health, The Office of the State Physician General, the Pennsylvania Commission for Women, and others.
Rivera said the Wolf Administration and the Department of Education will continue to engage stakeholders from across the commonwealth to develop state-level policy recommendations to address the pressing issue of sexual assault in Pennsylvania schools and postsecondary institutions. PDE is working develop and share resources with the state's secondary and postsecondary institutions that will help inform policy, research, and practice.
MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Reigelman, 717-783-9802.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education