April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. This year’s theme, Prevention is Possible, resonates with us here in Maryland. With the recent passage of Erin’s Law through both the House of Delegates and the State Senate, there has never been a better time for us to come together and ensure that all children receive appropriate prevention education. As Frontline goes to press, Maryland’s legislative session is in its last days. In addition to Erin’s law, the General Assembly has approved bills to expand the basis for peace orders to include revenge porn, visual surveillance, telephone misuse, and misuse of interactive computer services or electronic communication. The crime of stalking has been expanded to include acts that cause serious emotional distress. And, improvements to the child abuse reporting laws will require notification of professional boards when a mandatory reporter fails to report. To learn about other new laws, check our website after the legislative session ends at midnight on Monday, April 11th. Until then, you can view our full legislative agenda by clicking here.
In keeping with this year’s theme, we offer a breakdown of evidence-based prevention programs for middle and high school students, as well as a College Consortium feature doing the same for college programs. As we strive to provide Maryland students with evidence-based, effective prevention education, understanding the existing research on prevention programs is essential.
This is a time to recognize the important work of activists, advocates, and educators working to create a society free from sexual violence. Our Program Spotlight highlights sexual assault prevention and response at the Crisis Intervention Center, a dual sexual assault and domestic violence program serving Calvert County. In this month’s Prevention Corner, Cheryl Banks of the Prince George’s County Sexual Assault Center offers her perspective on community-based prevention work, including how Take Back the Night events can give community members the skills and the courage to make a difference. To learn more about Sexual Assault Awareness Month events near you, please visit our event listing.
Art and media also provide important avenues for prevention and healing, and the five members of the Gather Together collective that we profile in this issue are coming together to use their creativity to help build a safer Maryland. In this quarter’s Safety Sync column, we also share how one programmer created an interactive, crowdsourced tool to help fellow survivors engage more safely with popular film and TV shows.
Your support is critical as we work to advocate for survivors and hold perpetrators accountable. This is the time for us to speak loudly and continue to fight for change here in Maryland. Thank you for all that you do.
Lisae C. Jordan, Esq.
Executive Director and Counsel