No one has to do everything, but everyone can do something.
That is a motto Gahanna Lincoln High School staff and students are learning through Green Dot, a violence-prevention strategy that teaches skills to prevent power-based violence such as bullying, dating violence and sexual assault.
About 150 junior and senior students already have been trained, with officials working on a goal of training another 75 to 90 students by the end of this school year, said Kristen Juth, a Lincoln High School English teacher who completed the training in January in Philadelphia.
"The four-day training was insightful, invigorating and empowering," Juth said. "I was challenged daily to think about what I could (do) to help decrease incidents of power-based personal violence at GLHS and in my personal life, as well as (being) trained to bring the program to the students at GLHS."
She believes the program will engage Gahanna students by following the motto that everyone can do something.
"If students have the tools to direct, distract or delegate an incident of power-based personal violence, then as a school, we can change the culture of our building," Juth said.
Green Dot basics
Susan Wismar, a prevention education coordinator with the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio, helped Gahanna get its program running in 2018, along with Gahanna Lincoln health teacher Cheryl Lowery.
Wismar said Lowery garnered support for the first facilitator training in 2017.
"It was a long project of getting support and partnering with OSU (Ohio State University)," she said.
Wismar said Gahanna and Grandview Heights High School educators received training during a four-day Green Dot course, thanks to funding from Ohio State's Title IX anti-discrimination office.
Lowery said the cost of each student training varies a little bit each time, depending on the number of students involved but the approximate cost is $750 $900 per training.
All costs for the district’s two training sessions last year and the six for this year are being covered by donations from a variety of sources, Lowery said.
Gahanna-Jefferson has received funding from private donors, Herff Jones, the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation and Ohio Health (via SARNCO). The district also has received in-kind donations from OhioHealth and Kroger at StoneRidge Plaza.
The method teaches students to intervene by using three D's:
* Direct by interacting with the potential perpetrator or victim and address your concern
* Distract by creating a diversion to diffuse a potentially problematic situation
* Delegate by asking someone to help in the situation, according to Green Dot Curriculum.
Wismar said the bystander intervention is being introduced in Gahanna in a strategic way.
"We intentionally scatter training through the student population so they (connect) with peer groups," she said. "It is working on a peer-sharing level. The students are responsible for the wave of information."
Wismar said students go through a full day of training that sets the program in motion.
"We're now (training) the sophomores, and it's very exciting," she said. "Students can shape norms and culture. They do understand what's constructive and what tears people down. A lot of them are aware, and they're looking for permission so they can interrupt the violence they know can potentially happen."
Juth said students who complete training are introduced to the idea of overcoming violence through the use of proactive and reactive Green Dots.
"The training is fully interactive," she said. "Students are provided time to reflect on their own experiences, as well as talk with peers. They also participate in role-playing exercises and activities which allow them to practice proactive-intervention skills."
Students are selected for the program through a survey sent to all juniors and seniors, asking them to list their most influential friends. Those peers are then asked to participate in the training.
"Being a part of Green Dot means being the kind of person that other people feel comfortable going to for help," said Sara Tuohy, a senior who received training last fall. "It means being a leader and a friend.
"Post-training, I've been more aware of questionable actions within relationships," she said. "I feel comfortable enough in what I learned to help and say something. I'm very lucky to attend a school in which people are willing to speak up."
Green Dot started as a sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking-prevention program for college campuses, launching at the University of Kentucky in 2006.
With funding from the UK Center of Violence Against Women and the Kentucky Association Against Sexual Assault, a study of Green Dot adapted for high schools was conducted in 2009.
As the Green Dot program began to spread across the nation, Dorothy J. Edwards and Marigail Sexton established the nonprofit Green Dot etc. Inc., in 2010 and the mission expanded beyond the Green Dot program to include consulting, strategic planning and training on effective prevention practices.
The nonprofit corporation is now called Alteristic Inc., and curriculum has been adopted in various forms for K-12 schools. More information can be found at alteristic.org.
"This is a big endorsement for Gahanna and Grandview," Wismar said. "They're investing in a long-term strategy."
She hopes other high schools will follow their example.
"There's no reason our schools have to be full of violence," she said. "It takes a strategy and Green Dot will lead to that reduction in violence."