Originally created 05/18/99

Group planning ways to improve services for rape victims

An effort to improve services to victims of rape and other sexual assaults -- and to prevent these crimes through early education -- is moving from the research stage into the planning stage.

Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Services, with the aid of a grant from the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Family Health Branch, is leading a communitywide initiative to learn what kinds of services are already available, what needs improvement, and how the group can best go about providing the services the community needs.

In a town meeting Monday morning at University Hospital, members of various agencies discussed the progress of the community research conducted since their last meeting in March -- a combination of focus groups, surveys and a teen awareness day.

Through the needs assessment, involving members of law enforcement, nurses, subsidized-housing residents, college students, middle and high school students, rural health care providers, business leaders, school officials, counselors and religious leaders, they hope to assess the effectiveness of what they are already doing and learn ways to improve awareness of services and prevention education, said Anne Ealick Henry, executive director.

"We want to know if our services are efficient and where we need enhancement, but also to hear from the community about what strategies to use and where to deliver services," she said.

As the results of the needs assessment are compiled, she said, the next step is to develop a written plan on how to meet those needs and put the suggestions into action.

Among the ideas they have gotten from the research so far: beginning rape and sexual assault education by age 9, providing different education programs for boys and girls, placing literature in pediatricians' offices to educate parents, and better educating health care workers about the entire process of dealing with rape so they know where to refer victims.

Emily Sollie covers teen issues for The Augusta Chronicle.She can be reached at (706) 823-3340 or esollie@augustachronicle.com.


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