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SafeBAE works to prevent sexual violence among students | #schoolsaftey

MAINE, Maine — SafeBAE is a national organization that focuses on preventing sexual violence among middle and high school students. The organization is survivor-founded, and it aims to enlist as many schools as possible in a culture change by giving teens the resources to become advocates against sexual harassment.

Any student can take the free peer educator training that SafeBAE offers in order to gain knowledge about these topics and open a club in their school with approval from school officials.

Some of the topics that the students are trained in talking about and helping others with are assault prevention, affirmative consent, safe bystander intervention, survivor care, and Title IX education. They’re also able to provide school staff with trauma-informed response training, curriculum, policy reform guidance, and resources to reduce recidivism.

In Maine, SafeBAE has groups in 17 schools. One of them is Baxter Academy for Technology and Science in Portland, where they hold weekly student-led meetings.

“Today we are going to be doing a red, yellow, green flag activity where we are going to be looking at different relationship dynamics,” Rowen Woodcock, a senior who leads the club at Baxter, said. “Our school needs a lot of change. We don’t have a health class, and there is a lot of rape culture that happens at our school, and so I decided to make change within our school.”

SafeBAE reports that teens ages 12-34 are at the highest risk of rape and sexual assault, and about 10% of high school students were sexually assaulted in 2017, with females (15%) experiencing higher rates than males (4.3%).

“I see it affects a lot of my friends, and it affects me, and I think it’s very apparent at our school,” Woodcock said.

Shael Norris is the founding executive director for SafeBAE. She’s also a Mainer.

“So that means that kids are really deciding what issues are really impacting them in school, how is it deeply impacting their access to education, their safety, and their just understanding of relationships and intimacy,” Norris said.

“We want to make sure that kids, and everybody, have the tools to respond to somebody that comes forward, help them access healing, and not be in a position to victim blame,” Norris explained. “If we don’t start this work early, we are not preventing that whole lifetime of—I mean it’s everything from domestic violence to workplace harassment.”

“This has honestly brought a lot of happiness and purpose to my life, Woodcock shared. “This is something that I always wanted to do for this school since freshman year, and so having this opportunity has just been a really positive thing in my life.”

Thanks to a grant, Norris said any Maine school can get free resources and in-person lectures from SafeBAE staff and trained students. They lead free workshops for students and school staff to learn and help each other out in case a teen experiences sexual assault.

For anyone interested in bringing consent education to their school, there is a grant from the Maine Health Access Foundation to provide these resources for free through the end of this year. Those who are interested should email [email protected].

If you are a student who has experienced sexual assault and you need direction to resources, you can reach out to SafeBAE on social media or to Norris at [email protected].

Click here to learn more about SafeBAE.

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