A group including law enforcement officials and community members gathered Tuesday in Rosemount to discuss different roles in preventing domestic violence and sexual assault crimes.
One theme considered by panelists at the training session assembled by the East Metro Crime Prevention Coalition is that men can do more to prevent crimes against women.
“We haven’t been part of the conversation,” said keynote speaker Ted Bunch, founder of a New York-based violence prevention organization, A Call to Men.
Now in its fourth year, the East Metro Crime Prevention Coalition is a partnership of Dakota, Ramsey and Washington County attorney’s and sheriff’s offices. It has trained law enforcement and community members on topics such as fraud, prescription medicine abuse and bullying. Tuesday’s session at the Rosemount Community Center looked at how current definitions of manhood affect the ongoing struggle to stem violence and sexual assault against women.
Bunch and a subsequent panel discussion addressed the roots of abuse: How most women killed by current or former partners died over their decisions to end the relationship, suggesting a sense of ownership by the partner. How phrases once thought benign — “you throw like a girl” — actually promote the idea that girls aren’t as valuable.
Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell, a panelist, discussed the dangers of not taking claims of abuse seriously. He cautioned that such assumptions could affect investigations.
“There’s this mechanism that we have that while we recognize the problems that exist, it is easy to shut off our involvement,” Schnell said.
MayKao Hang, CEO of the nonprofit Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, challenged agencies to dedicate 1 percent of what they spend on intervention on prevention.
“We’re creating some of the problems that we see,” she said. “Ask yourself if you’re really doing what it takes.”