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Community Safety

Springfield Colleges Move Forward with Green Dot Bystander Strategy

Nataleigh Ross

More colleges are moving toward a new initiative called “the green dot strategy,” which aims to prevent sexual violence and underage drinking. On Tuesday, Springfield schools Drury, Evangel, and Missouri State University, as well as Ozarks Technical Community College announced their involvement.

Green Dot is a strategy to “mobilize the bystanders” in cases of domestic violence or sexual assault. 

“Our committee believes, our institutions believe, we can enhance the community’s ability to reduce sexual assault among college students.”

Ed Derr is chair of the Underage Drinking Task Force Higher Education and director of Counseling and Disability Support Services at Drury.

“Haven, which is an online sexual assault education program, is being implemented now locally to increase awareness among our local college students and the prevalence of sexual assault and factors such as binge drinking that increase the risk such consequences to occur; however, there needs to be more organization among college campuses increase awareness of the positive impact bystanders have in decreasing the number of sexual assaults among college students. "Green Dot does that," says Derr.

Officials characterize green dots as a moment in time when someone chooses to use their words or behaviors to try to stop a red dot – or aggressive action - from happening. The initiative is active internationally with certified instructors in some of Canada’s colleges and a tool within the U.S. and other military organizations.

Officials believe this plan reduces sexual violence by 44 percent, and a recent study funded by the Centers for Disease Control found it as effective as 50 percent in high schools.

Amber Allen is a prevention specialist at the Community Partnership of the Ozarks and a facilitator of the Green Dot in relation to violence prevention on campuses. She defined the issue as power-based personal violence.

“It is important the colleges and community take these issues of power-based violence seriously and let the green dot strategy provide a way to help prevent violence and promote a cultural intolerance to violence in the community and on our local campuses. Green dot seeks to change these social norms and behaviors on campus and to show violence is not tolerated,” said Allen.

Allen notes that the three Ds of bystander intervention - Direct, Distract, or Delegate; is a big part of the Green Dot training, as these strategies allow choices for different situations.

Jill Patterson, Title IX coordinator at Missouri State University, offered the example of a relay race as a moment where one has to think quickly for solutions.

MSU has previously utilized a bystander training call Step Up. The university will launch its Green Dot initiative Thursday during a Stop the Violence Conference, a day long event geared toward putting an end to domestic violence.

OTC has already held a Green Dot training serving over 300 faculty and staff including nearly 100 trainees being students.  

Participating in the Green Dot Strategy is one way to fulfill requirements to hold continuous awareness measures and training set by the Violence against Women Act of 2014 VAWA.

Loren Lundstrum, dean of Student Development at OTC, attended Tuesday’s press conference wearing the Green Dot t-shirt. She said student leaders are important to the program’s success.

“This year, we’ve been very happy to have our Phi Theta Kappa society join the Green dot effort. They are taking this on as their annual project," said Lundstrum.

This week is “Green Dot Week” at OTC, with the community college planning to hold another bystander training and certification on November 13.

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