In the past month, a day hasn’t gone by without news of sexual assault or harassment allegations made by women, and a few men, who are finally feeling empowered to speak out.

Yet it is this point – to enable individuals to have the tools to know when and how to say something that is at the crux of some of the preventative work CHANA is doing today.

In fact, teaching kids from an early age, sometimes as young as five, about what is and is not appropriate behavior, can lead to lifesaving skills if abuse is encountered in the future either as children or adults.

“What’s coming out in society today reinforces our need to not only educate young people about their bodies but to empower them to have the confidence to speak out when they know something isn’t right,” says Dr. Nancy Aiken, executive director of CHANA.

For years, the organization has invested heavily in its healthy relationship program, providing workshops for Jewish day schools, public schools, colleges, synagogues, camps, youth-serving organizations – even Catholic schools.

Last year, CHANA reached hundreds of teens in both co-ed and single-sex programs.

Recognizing that bullying, harassment, sexual aggression and sexual abuse is often committed by an individual one trusts, CHANA teaches what inappropriate behavior looks like and feels like as well as how telling another person is the way to mitigate the harm and start the process of healing.

At the same time, CHANA incorporates trends into the workshops to keep the discussions timely and interesting, especially for adolescents and young adults. For example, one of the core topics CHANA is addressing now is the idea of consent and coercion in the wake of a number of cases of alleged sexual assaults on college campuses.

Reaching individuals early with concepts of emotional and physical safety, explained Aiken, gives them skills to deal with abusive adults that they may encounter as children. It also allows for these same skills to transfer to the workplace and intimate partner relationships later in life.

The Boy to Mentch program specifically engaged men and boys as allies in ending violence against women in our community. Click to read full article.

The Associated Contributors

The Associated Contributors are writers from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.