As April opens the spring season, we are reminded of a time to renew and grow. Along with recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we also honor Child Abuse Prevention Month throughout April.

Though child abuse and sexual violence are unique and distinct social issues, it is meaningful that they share the same awareness month. There is growing recognition that trauma (including child abuse or sexual violence) is widespread and has lasting effects on the body and the brain.

Recent research also shows how different forms of violence intersect and are often linked to one another.

Collaborating across movements is critical to effectively ending all forms of violence. This reminds us how interconnected these topics are and encourages child abuse preventionists and sexual violence preventionists to work in conjunction with one another. For various reasons, nonprofits and victim-assistance organizations often end up working in silos within our specified passions and causes. However, when we recognize our common vision for safer communities, we can leverage our collective voice and create a multiplying effect in our efforts to create social change.

We are working to put this theory of collaboration into action! Recently, NJCASA and PCA-NJ (Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey), a statewide organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect in N.J., collaborated to co-advocate for the passage of legislation that aims to better protect kids in N.J. schools by requiring schools to conduct a thorough review of employment history, including checking for reported child abuse and sexual misconduct at past jobs. We are also cross-training for each other’s member organizations in our prevention efforts to continue to inform our work towards social change.

Prevention is about individuals working towards a collective impact. We all play a role in ending violence in all its forms – not just the physical act of violence, but standing up against the various inequities and injustices that lead to violence. Even small acts can create large change.

So where can we start? Here are simple ways you can help make a collective impact:

We hope you join us in inspiring others to work together in our respective movements to create safer communities everywhere. Each one of us has a voice that we can use for creating positive change and April is a great month to start!

Jyoti Venketraman is the Capacity Building Manager for NJCASA where she is responsible for strengthening the capacity of member programs to serve all survivors. As part of her role, she manages a portfolio of diverse projects such as membership best practice standards, prevention, campus sexual assault and expanding accessibility to underserved populations. Jyoti has more than 10 years of experience working in non-profits and began her career working in women’s health issues and health policy analysis for women of color. Jyoti holds a Master’s in Public Administration from NYU Robert Wagner School of Public Service in Health Policy and Management, and a BS in microbiology from the University of Pune, India. She is passionate about using a social justice lens to create safe communities everywhere.

Carrie Speiser currently works for Prevent Child Abuse NJ as the Program Coordinator for the Human Trafficking Prevention Initiative where she provides training and technical assistance for the prevention of commercial sexual exploitation of youth. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of NJCASA as the Treasurer. She has worked in the field for over 15 years preventing dating and domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. She graduated from the University of Hartford with a Bachelor of Science in Human Services and from Seton Hall University with a Master of Public Administration for Non-Profit Management. Carrie believes that everyone can help make a difference towards social change.

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