Family Services is a regional leader in providing evidenced based programming that increases an individual’s awareness and coping skills to reduce sexual violence, gun violence and substance use. Our Prevention Programming and partnerships create impact throughout Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, and Westchester Counties. In 2020, 880 students from across the Hudson Valley received violence and substance use prevention education.
Ulster Prevention Council:
Ulster Prevention Council (UPC) utilizes a variety of evidenced based curricula in their work with students across Ulster County to reduce instances of substance use. The Too Good for Drugs curriculum is a classroom-based substance use prevention program that increase social and emotional competency skills and increases knowledge of the harmful effects of problem behaviors such as substance use. (1). The Botvin Life Skills Curriculum is a school and community-based training based on more than 40 years of research and is the top research-based substance abuse prevention program in the county. The program shows incredible impact including reduction of tobacco use by 87%, reduction of alcohol use by 60%, reduction in marijuana use by 75%, reduction in methamphetamine use by 68%, and reduction in verbal/physical aggression, fighting and delinquency by up to 50% (2). Ulster Prevention Council uses the Girls Circle Curriculum, the first gender-responsible program in the county to demonstrate effectiveness in reducing delinquency for girls. Participants show significant increases in self-efficacy, positive body image and perceived social support after participating in this group-based program. (3) Lastly, UPC utilizes the comprehensive and research-based Teen Intervene Program to help youth identify the reasons they have chosen to use alcohol or other drugs, examine the effects of substance abuse in their lives, and learn to make healthier choices. (4)
Gun Involved Violence Education (GIVE):
Family Services utilizes the evidence-based Phoenix Curriculum to inform our Gun Involved Violence Elimination Program. Through GIVE, youth gain the ability to recognize high risk people, places, things, and situations and learn a variety of skills to avoid, escape, or refuse involvement in gun or gang violence. Youth learn to ask for help from safe and supportive people, manage their feelings (self-monitoring and emotional intelligence), and control their impulses. Research for the Phoenix Curriculum is promising and, in the school-based New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission Program, the Phoenix Curriculum demonstrated a significant, 50% reduction in recidivism in gun involved violence (5). A recent survey of teens who participate in our program show that 94% of youth agree or strongly agree that their knowledge and skills have increased after participating in workshops and 95% feel as if they would make different choices now after learning from the workshops.
Sexual Violence Prevention:
Throughout the Hudson Valley, Family Services utilizes a variety of evidence-based programs and best practices to challenge the norms that lead to harassment, abuse and violence as well as provide individuals with skills to respond to problematic behavior.
In our work with students throughout the Hudson Valley, Family Services utilizes the evidence-based program Mentors in Violence Prevention to challenge the social norms that often underlie acts of harassment, abuse, and violence. MVP is one of the longest running gender violence, sexual harassment, and bullying prevention programs in the world. The Bystander Intervention training helps students develop a range of options for intervention in specific situations, fosters a peer culture that motivates everyone to get involved in challenging all forms of abuse and help to create a climate in which abusive attitudes, believes and behaviors are unacceptable. Research shows that at least 80% of participants experience changes in individual attitudes and believes towards gender-based violence after participating in the program. (6) After participating in our MVP courses, 99% of students strongly agree or agree that they would recommend MVP to a friend.
While alcohol does not cause violence, it is often used as a weapon or an excuse in sexual assaults. Through our Safer Bars Initiative, Family Services partners with alcohol serving establishments to respond to and prevent violence. Through the evidence-based curriculum, Family Services empowers far staff and owners to be trained bystanders – helping bar staff recognize harassment and other inappropriate behavior and providing them with the skills they need to respond to behavior safely. (7)