Summit on preventing sexual violence set for St. Paul

Efforts to prevent sexual violence will be explored next month with a two-day forum sponsored by the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault and five state departments.

The Summit to Prevent Sexual Violence will be held Dec. 3 and 4 in St. Paul.

Organizers say they will use a public health-prevention model to combat sexual violence because the problem “costs Minnesota $8 billion annually and afflicts more than 61,000 Minnesotans of all ages every year. According to the 2009 Violence Data Brief from MDH, one in four females and one in seven males will likely be a victim of attempted or completed sexual assault by age 18.”

At the summit, state leaders will discuss ways to support of Minnesota’s Sexual Violence Prevention Plan, which aims to stop violence based on sex before it starts, rather than deal with it after the fact with treatment and prosecution.

Organizers say this Minnesota Summit will be first of its kind in the nation and will be a model for other states. A National Summit is to be held in June 2010 in Washington, D.C.

Summit speakers will include forensic pediatrician and child development expert Dr. Sharon Cooper, and Eric Janus, president and dean of William Mitchell College of Law. Janus is the author of “Failure to Protect,” which questions whether public policy has been effective in preventing sexual violence.

Co-sponsors with the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault is the Minnesota Department of Health, along with the Departments of Corrections, Education, Human Services and Public Safety. Also involved is the Mayo Clinic’s Child and Family Advocacy Program. 

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