MAY 21, 2008

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UCO partners with District Attorney Prater for violence prevention project

The University of Central Oklahoma has partnered with Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater for the Violence Prevention Project (VPP), a new, federally funded and campus-based program aimed to help UCO community members receive confidential services if victimized by relational crimes.

Prater is a part of a Community Education Response Team (CERT), which includes other key partners such as members of the Edmond and UCO Police Departments, members of the UCO staff and outside community partners.

“Mr. Prater will provide support, expertise and guidance about the program functions. He feels very passionate about the issue of domestic violence and we are excited about what Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office will bring to the project here at UCO,” said Kathryn Toahty, coordinator for UCO’s VPP.

“The program’s overall goal is to effectively minimize incidents of violent relational crimes such as sexual assault, intimate partner violence and/or abuse and stalking on the UCO campus. Statistics show that only 17 to 19 percent of rapes and sexual assaults are reported. Hopefully, with the Violence Prevention Project, we can allow for comfort and confidentiality in seeking out resources to aid in victims in the healing process.”

UCO’s VPP is part of a flagship program funded by a $1 million grant recently provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, distributed throughout five Oklahoma universities, including ECU, SWOSU, SEOSU, NWOSU and UCO.

The project is conducted through UCO’s Student Counseling Center and is anticipated to enhance current security measures existing on the campus.

CERT members assist in overseeing and providing a survivor response system, educational and awareness programs and the development and monitoring of effective campus judicial policies relating to violent crime.

The VPP assists in training UCO staff, faculty and students on how to recognize signs of violence and how to get assistance.

“We are thrilled at the level of responses we’ve seen in the UCO community concerning assisting with the project. We’re committed to educating and engaging the entire community,” Toahty said.

“A community unbroken by violence and fear will provide the atmosphere necessary to prepare educated young adults to be successful members and leaders of our society at large.”

VPP is available to advocate for the survivors in the areas of medical assistance, legal assistance, counseling on and off campus, accommodating housing needs and/or relocation, as well as assistance with addressing academic issues in regards to schedule change concerns.