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Project RESPECT Receives grant to expand program

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By Brent Lyday

Commerce – The Texas A&M University-Commerce social work department was recently awarded a $282,478 grant for three years by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, to develop and enhance approaches to stop violence against women on campus.

Project RESPECT (Respond, Empower, Support, Protect, Educate, Coordinate, and Train) will develop partnerships between university departments, community victim services, criminal justice, and relevant entities.

"One of the main goals of the program is to 'Build Healthy and Sustainable Communities' and a key tenet is to proactively address issues that could negatively affect our students," said Dianna Jones, project director. "This is a great program and I see A&M-Commerce being on the forefront in addressing these problems."

Project RESPECT was initiated in summer 2010 after the department of social work received a $110,987 grant from the Texas Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division. The grants have expanded Project RESPECT to include preventative activities and enhanced training needed to stop violence against women on college campuses, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating/acquaintance violence, and stalking.
Special efforts will include programs to engage men to take responsibility, both individually and collectively, to end violence against women.

The Project RESPECT staff, administered through the department of social work, will provide training to faculty, staff, administrators, law enforcement, and student leaders to address violence against women on campus. The program is in the process of implementing multiple comprehensive strategies to prevent sexual assault and strengthen and enhance victim services, security and investigative efforts, and hold offenders accountable.

"Even though this program is funded by the Violence Against Women Act, everyone has to take an active role in addressing these issues," Jones said. "The project hopes to include additional programs such as bystander training, peer-education groups and other holistic approaches to stop violence against women."

For more information, please contact Dianna Jones at 903-886-5893 or Dianna_jones@tamu-commerce.edu.