What Works To Prevent Sexual Violence Against Children

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Author(s): Together for Girls,  The Equality Institute and the Oak Foundation

Published: Nov. 19, 2019

Report Intro/Brief:
“Sexual violence against children, which includes anyone under the age of 18, is one of the largest silent global pandemics of our time, occurring in countries at all levels of development and affecting children of all ages. Sexual violence consists of a range of sexual acts against a child, including but not limited to child sexual abuse, incest, rape, sexual violence in the context of dating/intimate relationships, sexual exploitation, online sexual abuse, and non-contact sexual abuse…

Sexual violence against children and adolescents does not occur in isolation. It often intersects with other forms of gender-based violence and violence against children. Further, different forms of violence against children share common drivers and risk factors. Thus, holistic approaches that target all forms of violence are important to address these intersections, consider polyvictimization, and maximize the use of scarce resources. At the same time, the nuanced experiences of sexual violence also require focused interventions during specific points in the life course. Therefore, both holistic and focused approaches are important and should be complementary.

Together for Girls, in partnership with the Equality Institute and the Oak Foundation, has drawn on an extensive evidence base and the expert knowledge of civil society, practitioners, academics, and policymakers, with special attention to LMICs, to do the following:

  • Present a user-friendly summary of the existing evidence of what works to prevent one specific form of violence against children and adolescents — sexual violence
  • Highlight ongoing challenges and evidence gaps
  • Share case studies across various sectors and regions of the world
  • Showcase expert opinions on how to best prevent sexual violence against children

Finally, this evidence review is intended to be a knowledge springboard for further work to understand and prevent sexual violence against children. The primary audience includes decision-makers, advocates, and program implementers to help guide efforts and investments in policies and programs that have the potential to prevent and end sexual violence against children.”

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Paying countries for carbon protects forests, but only if payments continue

Fires ravaging the Amazon rainforests and global climate strikes have highlighted the need for global action to mitigate climate change and conserve forests. Though the situation can seem dire at times, there is good news from a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Carbon payments do protect forests and represent one solution to reversing the trend of global deforestation.

How I Changed How Young People Saw Community Service

community service: Young people cleaning beach area.

Africa Studio/Shutterstock


While serving as a juvenile diversion officer, I had the opportunity to see how we use community service in the juvenile justice system. When I stepped into this juvenile justice role, the county attorney instructed me of some basic requirements he wanted included in the diversion contract. 

One of these requirements was the completion of community service hours. Community service is widely used as a punishment throughout our judicial system. This practice began in 1966 in a program in California and quickly spread throughout the country. 

community service: Mary Ingram (headshot), founder of Volunteer Nebraska, smiling woman with short light brown hair, red and black top

Mary Ingram

Seeing community service as a punishment was new to me because I had never been forced to do it. As a high school student, I served on student council and assisted with after-school programs. These activities allowed me to experience youth leadership. 

I learned how to lead a successful meeting with an agenda. I had an active voice in my community. Adulthood only expanded my involvement in my community as I served on multiple boards of directors, raised thousands of dollars for community projects and always with youth involvement.

As I began to work with diversion participants, I was mystified when they frowned at helping with a park beautification project or they grumbled when they were asked to visit the elderly at a nursing facility. I could not relate to these negative feelings. I began to ask questions. Knowing I was interested in what they were saying made them feel cared for and emotionally connected to me. Positive interactions increased. We became motivated to learn from one another. 

I learned that by assigning community service, I was introducing it as a negative experience and something that should be avoided. It was something they HAD to do, not something they wanted to do. They saw it as a punishment. They felt embarrassed to be seen while working on a project. 

I wanted to change the way they viewed community service. My first step was to do the project with them. It gave us more quality time together. We began having conversations about their goals, fears and struggles. Trust was being developed. One Saturday morning we were working on a park clean-up project. I remember a father was out on a walk with his son, when I heard the father say, “You better be good or you are going to be doing that,” as he pointed in our direction. I knew I had work to do to change that mindset, not only with the teens but with adults as well.

Getting engaged

Just when I thought I had a good understanding of community service, I heard someone make the comment, “All he got was community service.” This statement makes it even worse because now it is almost a laughable form of punishment. But it emphasized the fact that it shouldn’t be a punishment at all. We can revolutionize our judicial system by making a simple adjustment in how we portray community service.

Community engagement became my new term. I encouraged these young people to identify things in their community that needed to be fixed or improved. There is power in seeing a problem and taking action to do something about it. It takes planning, goal setting and strategic thinking. 

Young people who are engaged in their community are learning the importance of networking as they practice team building. They find themselves addressing school administrators and community leaders. They begin to understand budgets and perhaps get an opportunity to write a grant. They are learning to take a leadership role at an early age. When acts of service become a personal code of conduct, amazing things begin to happen.

My primary responsibility was to hold first-time juvenile offenders accountable for their crime. The young people in the community began to understand that accountability is being responsible for their decisions, actions and attitude — both good and bad. They are responsible for their screw-ups as well as their successes. 

I knew they embraced community service when they took the lead by organizing the Merrick County Youth Council. They held their first meeting March 10, 2002. This organization is still actively building youth leadership in their community.  

Seeing community service through their lens and witnessing their success inspired me to launch Volunteer Nebraska. This nonprofit organization provides a youth recognition program for children preschool to high school to actively engage in their community. This program serves the state of Nebraska, but can be easily replicated by any community.

Ask your young people, which lens are they using when they are being introduced to community service? Help them to see that it is not a punishment, but rather a power tool that can build youth leadership in their community. 

Mary Ingram is a former juvenile diversion officer, founder of Volunteer Nebraska and author of the book, “The Fallen,” which has been distributed to prisons all over the U.S. You can contact her at [email protected]

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Switching to renewable energy could save thousands of lives in Africa

With economies and populations surging, an industrial revolution is inevitable on the African continent. The question is, what’s going to power it? With renewable energy cheaper and more efficient than ever, countries in Africa have the unique opportunity to harness abundant renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal to leapfrog the dependence on fossil fuels that has poisoned the air and environment in Europe, the U.S., India and China.

Nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, is on the rise: study

Most of us know nitrous oxide as “laughing gas,” used for its anaesthetic effects. But nitrous oxide (N2O) is actually the third most important long-lived greenhouse gas, after carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane. Nitrous oxide is also one of the main stratospheric ozone depleting substances— and we are releasing more of it into the atmosphere than previously thought, according to a new study published this week in Nature Climate Change.

Innovative Community Organization Award Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, regional, state and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Community, Community Development, Community Renewal
Dec. 10, 2019

“The Atlantic and Allstate are issuing a call for nominations for the 2020 Renewal Awards. Now in its fifth year, this nationwide competition celebrates local organizations that are finding creative solutions to America’s most pressing problems—and helps them make an even bigger impact. Five winners, to be announced at a special ceremony in spring 2020, will each receive $40,000 in funding over two years from The Atlantic and Allstate; one of the winners will additionally be presented with the Allstate Youth Empowerment Award.”

Funder: The Atlantic and Allstate
“The Renewal Awards Contest is open only to nominators who are legal U.S. residents of the 50 United States (excluding Puerto Rico) and the District of Columbia who are 21 years or older at the time of entry and Nonprofits (i.e., 501(c)(3) organizations who are the subject of a nomination). For the purposes of these Official Rules, a “Nonprofit” is any entity that is an officially recognized organization or a registered charity within their state.”
$40,000 (over two years)

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After-school Staff Can Earn Micro-credentials Through New NAA Program

credentials: Small colorful badges on white background

After-school staff now can gain skills and credentials through a new micro-credentialing system offered by the National AfterSchool Association. 

In development for several years, the system allows front line staff to train online or seek out training and then demonstrate mastery by creating a demonstration video or providing documentation of the skills.

“We want to make sure staff and leaders in out-of-school time get the professional development and recognition they need to be successful,” said Heidi Ham, vice president of programs and strategy for the National AfterSchool Association. “Staff are really key to programs that get positive outcomes.”

Micro-credentials are short and competency-based, she said.

“It’s a way for people to scaffold their learning.” she said. They can learn and practice one skill, then move on to another.

The currently available credential is in STEM facilitation — the creation of informal STEM learning environments. The credential is divided into 10 skill areas, or micro-credentials, including how to successfully engage youth, create a positive learning atmosphere, ensure equitable participation and facilitate reflection. NAA worked with Click2Science, the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance and Harvard’s PEAR (Partnerships in Education and Resilience) Institute to set up this credentialing system.

Other credentials are being developed in the areas of:

  • digital learning
  • literacy
  • social and emotional learning
  • healthy eating and physical activity.

“We plan on building out the system,” Ham said.

Two credentials for after-school leaders will be in the area of training others and leading with emotional intelligence.

To participate, users will register online at the Digital Promise Micro-Credential Marketplace. After seeing the skills required, users decide whether to do training or whether they are ready to demonstrate their skills.

To get training, they can turn to a list of training resources.

“There’s lots of great [professional development] out there,” Ham said. “There are lots of people providing PD.”

When ready, users can upload a video showing their skills in action. Alternatively, they can submit a Dimensions of Success observation form that has been completed by a certified observer. Dimensions of Success is a tool developed by the PEAR Institute to improve informal STEM education.

In a pilot program, the National AfterSchool Association worked with after-school networks in 11 states and had 239 people go through the credentialing process, Ham said. 

“We’ve gotten an enthusiastic response,” she said.

As the NAA develops the credentialing system, it will work to further acquaint out-of-school time organizations with the credentials and what they mean, Ham said.

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School and Youth Educational Garden Project Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, regional, state and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Education, School/Youth Gardens, Environmental Education
Dec. 16, 2019

“Since 1982, the Youth Garden Grant has supported school and youth educational garden projects that enhance the quality of life for students and their communities. Any nonprofit organization, public or private school, or youth program in the United States or US Territories planning a new garden program or expanding an established one that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 3 and 18 is eligible to apply. The selection of winners is based on demonstrated program impact and sustainability. Previous Youth Garden Grant winners who wish to reapply must wait one year after receiving the award and must prove that their garden programs have been significantly expanded.”

Funder: KidsGardening
“Any nonprofit organization, public or private school, or youth program in the United States or US Territories planning a new garden program or expanding an established one that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 3 and 18 is eligible to apply.”
Up to $2,360

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SF Bay Area Youth Literacy Program Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, regional, state and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Education, Literacy, K-5, Reading, Disadvantaged Students
Dec. 15, 2019 (LOI)

“In January 2011 the Fleishhacker Foundation announced a new framework for the Precollegiate Education grantmaking program focused on K-5 literacy. Grants are awarded to Bay Area organizations whose work is primarily focused on providing literacy services to disadvantaged public school students.

We launched the Literacy Initiative in recognition of the educational achievement gap of at-risk students, particularly those in large urban school districts with low-income backgrounds. We are supporting programs that improve early reading readiness, grade-level attainment by the end of 3rd grade, and students leaving 5th grade ready for the more challenging work of middle and high school (including college preparatory courses) – all key markers for future success in school and life.


  • Focusing funding on a core competency in elementary school education which affects the future educational and life opportunities of each child;
  • Helping students who are behind, or in danger of falling behind, improve their reading and writing skills;
  • Supporting disadvantaged students, primarily those attending public schools, in achieving grade-level competency.”

Funder: The Fleishhacker Foundation
“Grants will primarily be made to nonprofit community-based organizations providing direct literacy services to students; Priority will be given to school-day, classroom-based programs, and those serving a significant number of students.”
Amount: Unspecified

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Study shows some aquatic plants depend on the landscape for photosynthesis

ASU researchers found that not only are freshwater aquatic plants affected by climate, they are also shaped by the surrounding landscape. When in an environment where CO2 is limited, aquatic plants use strategies to extract carbon from bicarbonate. Scientists identified patterns across ecoregions around the globe and discovered a direct link between the availability of catchment bicarbonate and the ability of aquatic plants to extract carbon from that bicarbonate.