Western Illinois University raising awareness for Interpersonal - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Western Illinois University raising awareness for Interpersonal Violence


Western Illinois University is working to make its campus safer for students, but it may take more reports of violence to make that happen.   An online journal recently ranked western as the 20th most dangerous college in the nation, yet authorities wonder how many crimes are going unreported.

When you think of violent crimes, you may think of deadly weapons...but on a daily basis, police face more common crimes of violence, such as domestic and sexual assaults or stalking.  The type of crimes that often happen on college campuses, but many times go unreported.  Now police say getting victims to come forward is the best way to make campus safer.

Faculty and law enforcement listened to Mark Wynn, an expert on interpersonal violence, speak on how to get more people to report violent crimes on campus.  That's because WIU's Associate professor of Psychology Dr. Melanie Hetzel-Riggin says crimes like rape, domestic violence or stalking often go unreported.  

"I think we are going to see an increase because like I said 1 in 4 to 1 in 5 of women are going to be the victim of some sort of interpersonal violence while they're on campus, and so we should see 25% of women reporting initially because they feel safe enough to do so," Hetzel-Riggin said. 

That means there should be more than one thousand cases of interpersonal violence, something Western isn't seeing right now.  Wynn is leading the session so campus police and WIU staff can make it easier for victims to report these acts of violence because right now he said victims are scared. 

"They are waiting for a signal from this university and local law enforcement that says you can now come to us and report.  We are going to treat you fairly, you're going to get justice, you're going to get safety and once you see that happens you'll see the numbers go up," Wynn said.  

So why isn't this basic knowledge?  Project Director for the Interpersonal Violence Prevention Grant Janine Cavicchia said it's because of rapid turnovers at WIU. 

"And we've thought we've done a good job promoting that students don't know, they're not aware. Faculty is not aware of when students come to them on who to refer them to so that's the piece that we're hoping will get the word out, " Cavicchia said.

WIU received a $300,000 grant to help raise awareness on the subject.  Cavicchia said this won't be a quick process, but they are already getting started to alert both students and staff on the subject. 


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