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State Violence-Prevention Group Calls for Change


Oct. 31, 2009

Eighteen members of a statewide group meeting in Anchorage on Thursday and Friday to address reducing violence and promote healthy relationships among Alaska’s youth issued a statement today regarding the brutal gang rape of a 15-year old girl at a California homecoming event. 

The group members are part of the Statewide Steering Committee for the Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) Project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The fact that California police are reporting that as many as 10 people were allegedly involved in the rape at the school, while others watched without calling 911 is horrific,” said Sandy Samaniego, Executive Director of the state Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, “It is a tragic reminder of the important work we are undertaking in Alaska,” she said.

“Last year the Alaska State Legislature provided the first-ever funding for prevention activities statewide,” said Peggy Brown, Executive Director of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. “The group meeting in Anchorage today, as well as a public information campaign slated to air statewide in November, are an outgrowth of the state’s recognition that more can be done to reduce violence and change social norms.”

“Our hearts go out to the young girl victimized in the California attack,” said Larry Roberts, member of the group and a faculty member at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “Our work here is to promote healthy relationships in families and communities in order to prevent these ugly events from ever taking place.”

“We have had 350 reported sexual assaults in Anchorage since January, 2009,” Carrie Longoria, Safety Links Program Manager for the Municipality of Anchorage reported to the group, “and more than 800 children in the last year in Anchorage were referred to Alaska Cares for medical exams and assessments for sexual harm or injury,” she said.

“We need to pay attention to what is going on and know that our efforts to bring about change can, and do, make a difference,” Longoria said.

“Gov. Parnell just announced that the state will be putting more public safety officers in villages,” the Council’s Samaniego reported. “This an excellent move and an important step in responding to sexual assault and domestic violence statewide,” she said.

“I am a member of the DELTA steering committee because there are many Alaskans who don’t have an awareness of violence against women of all ages in our state,“  Renee Aguilar of the Municipality of Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services told the group. “This is an important time for adults to pay attention to what is going on with our youth. Parents and other adults can and should have a conversation with teens about the importance of safe, respectful and healthy relationships,” she said.

“We need to make sure our young people know that they are not alone and that we have resources throughout the state ready to provide support and care,” said Gretchen Clarke, Steps to a Healthier Southeast Alaska Community and Workplace Coordinator with SEARHC in Sitka.

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