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Date last updated: Wednesday, October 19, 13:35 PST

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Iowa grant to help schools stop violence

By Stacey Becker
The Telegraph Herald

DUBUQUE, Iowa — The Dubuque Community School District received a $488,000 federal grant that will support programs aimed at reducing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in secondary schools.

"We want to name the issues and face them right up front," said Mae Hingtgen, behavioral support specialist with the district.

Issued from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, the three-year grant will begin this fall with a needs assessment.

A strategic plan will be submitted to the office later this school year.

The district worked with three organizations to receive the funding: Dubuque Community Y Domestic Violence Program, the Riverview Center and the Dubuque Police Department.

The organizations will continue to work with the district to integrate services and training.

"This is something that has to happen, but it's not something one agency can do," said Sister Charla Bulko, program director at the Dubuque Community Y Domestic Violence Program.

Hingtgen said the collaboration will bring a more vast approach to the issues for adolescents than ever before in Dubuque.

Josh Jasper, president and CEO of the Riverview Center, said the grant will allow violence prevention to be saturated in the district from the top down.

"We have to be able to influence the kids before it's too late," Bulko said.

She said she has seen an escalation in young people in violent relationships. "It's happening at a greater number as well as much more serious situations," Bulko said.

In the second year of the grant, the strategic plan will be implemented and staff will be trained by the three support organizations.

The programs will help all employees in the district who interact with students in grades six through 12 to improve prevention, recognition and intervention for the violent crimes listed in the grant.

Free services also will be provided to victims.

"We, the agencies, will provide the counseling services that they're needing," Bulko said.

The funds specifically will be used to improve community collaboration, develop an effective educational component interwoven into the health curriculum at the district's three middle schools, two high schools and one Alternative Learning Center, enhance the engagement of parents and provide intervention services to any survivors.

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