Monday, January 25, 2010

A National Rape Prevention Education Campaign Worth Voting For

Taken directly from Ideas for Change website:

There Is No Excuse and Never An Invitation To Rape

Our vision is a world without violence. Where no child is abused, no wife battered, no friend raped. A world without terror, without threats, without wounds from intentional actions. Where the strong provide for the vulnerable, where the vulnerable become empowered, and where every kind of family is safe and secure.

Sexual assault is an ongoing health, social, human rights and criminal justice issue with real consequences for just about everyone.  In America, one in six women and one in thirty-three men are raped in their lifetimes.  Victims of assault are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.  Victims of intimate partner violence pay more than 18.5 million visits to mental health care providers a year.  Especially vulnerable are teens, 20% of female high school students are identified as having been hurt physically or sexually by a date or intimate partner.  

Peace Over Violence proposes wide-scale, national public education designed to raise awareness, demystify attitudes and change social norms that tolerate sexual violence and allow rape to persist.  Prevention messages will be relayed through classrooms, living rooms, and boardrooms.  Social and broadcast media as well as grassroots campaigns will stimulate conversation and spread the message of the possibilities of prevention to women and men, boys and girls.

For the past 11 years, Peace Over Violence has mounted a public awareness campaign, “Denim Day,” to protest against rape.  The original Denim Day event was held to call attention to a 1992 Italian Supreme Court verdict that overturned a rape conviction stating:  “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”  Last year, one million individuals participated in Denim Day Campaign activities by wearing jeans, taking part in rallies, talking about sexual assault with their friends and families and getting educated about how to stop rape.  Participating schools, businesses, organizations and individuals registered on and received Denim Day action kits, including posters, flyers, myth/fact sheets, buttons, temporary tattoos, and suggestions for how to organize a rape prevention education campaign in their community. 

As part of Ideas for Change, we can make a significant impact by taking the message of Denim Day to a national stage where the White House and federal lawmakers can collaborate with corporations, schools, community organizations and the media to prevent rape. Vote Here!

More Information:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Safer Roads and Saving Lives

I am guilty of doing it (we all are) but it is now time for us to stop. It is a new year and we can do this! We can do better! Oprah suggested it – and I think we should listen to her (after all, it’s what Americans do best). Monday night my sister Heather called and begged me to sign Oprah's No Phone Zone Pledge – which I reluctantly have done and believe you should too.

I will freely admit that I am a text-messager/email-aholic. I even carry BOTH a Crackberry AND an I-Phone with me. It is very hard for me to resist the urge to read and even *gasp here* respond do text messages while I’m in the car. Granted, I generally only do it at red lights but sometimes my thumb doesn't finish fast enough before the light turns green. But you and I know I need to knock it off. It's time, really. And I am urging you to do the same. Here's the deal: if I can do it so can you! Texting/emailing while behind the wheel leads to distraction (duh!), and driver distraction/inattention is the leading cause of car accidents in this country.

Ok, I know that you know this but read these tidbits: EVERY DAY last year over 800,000 people in the U.S. were texting, making calls, or using a cell phone while driving. Distracted driving killed nearly 6,000 Americans last year. But texting/emailing is especially bad. In a study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute they found that of all cell phone related tasks - including talking, dialing, or reaching for the phone - texting and emailing while driving are the MOST dangerous activities.

I heard a statistic the other day that texting while driving impairs you in the same way that driving with a few beers in you would. Yes, Oprah said it: texting is equivalent to drinking about 4 beers and DRIVING! Crazy! We all know to never drink and drive, so why do we text and drive? Convenience? Maybe. Addicted to connection? Maybe. Worth it? NO. Keep this greeting in perspective I am NOT expecting you to stop talking on your cell in the car (hands free, of course) but I do believe the time has come for all of us to stop with the texting and emailing while we drive. I will do it, and you should too. Together let's SAVE LIVES and make the roads safer.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti and Safety

In California, earthquake preparedness is a must! We are sitting on a major fault – so we prepare. We all remember the Northridge quake in 1994 – which was a 6.8 magnitude – and caused enormous damage in the Southland. I know you feel, as I do, incredible sympathy for the humanitarian catastrophe that has happened in Haiti (see below for ways you can help). This tragic event has me thinking about safety and preparedness.

It strikes me as so interesting that earthquake safety drills are given to our kindergartners (in fact children of all ages through high-school), as a regular practice. Why? Because we know an earthquake is bound to happen so we want our kids to be educated and ready. But why don’t we prepare our kids to be wary of sexual abuse? It is a fact that child sexual assault happens – why are we afraid or reluctant to prepare our kids to be savvy and safe? Is it because a drill (stop, drop and roll) where you flee under your desk is less upsetting then talking about scary predators? It’s the same concept: prepare them!

The key to keeping such talks from being scary is for parents to assume that body/personal safety discussions are not scary! Just because we, as adults, are terrified of what we know about “the world out there,” we don’t have to convey our fears to our children.

I am not suggesting that parents need to tell their kids the gruesome details of every case in the news, or pound statistics into their heads. But youngsters need to have a solid understanding of specific safety skills appropriate to their age and their own personal level of understanding.

When it’s time to discuss sexual abuse, the best way to combat the fear associated with such talks is to just start the discussion! It’s never too early to begin giving children information that can help them stay safe. Treat personal safety like any other parenting lesson: find appropriate times, don’t tackle too many lessons at a time, and consider the child’s own level of development and understanding.

Have the conversation!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Relaunching Justice Interrupted

What is the media’s role in the criminal justice system? Do trial and case coverage help the system or jeopardize the integrity of the process? While there are hundreds of examples and arguments for both sides, there is a general consensus that media is necessary for the criminal justice system to operate efficiently and effectively.

In my personal view, there is no better way to bring about change and educate society then through the medium of mass communications. But mass communication has changed dramatically in the last several years. As a result of the boom in social networking and exponential growth of digital media, grass roots advocacy has taken on a whole new meaning as well.

I am proud to be participating in this new age media boom -- I am partnering with the one-and-only Stacy Dittirich to relaunch our popular radio show, Justice Interrupted. As crime victim advocates, we are utilizing the power of the media to bring miscarriages of justice the attention they deserve.  We harness the power of media to bring the little-known cases and crime victims the attention they deserve. Since we cover cases that generally do not get much attention by the traditional media, we hope you will help us spread the word by subscribing to our site (we have an RSS feed up, see below) and tuning into our weekly radio show.

Stacy and I are in the process of creating an incredible new website interface that will be live by this time next week. Preview it at While the site is not completely live yet, if you visit the link you’ll see an exciting preview of what’s to come.

On any given day, there are as many as 100,000 active missing persons cases in the United States, more than 600 rapes, 30 murders, more than 13,000 acts of domestic violence against women.  While the big media outlets (CNN, NBC, ABC, etc.) are good at bringing us the high profile cases – and we watch them with enthusiasm – we still cannot possibly hear about all the important cases that are waiting for justice. That’s where Stacy and I come in: our Justice Interrupted show has already been credited with the denial of parole for a multiple murderer and the return of an abducted child.  We are excited to continue our mission to bring attention to cases where justice has been interrupted.  Please join our cause!

If you’re interested in receiving updates on Justice Interrupted, subscribe using this link

Questions? Email me at