Wednesday’s stabbings at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville has left many asking what steps can be taken to prevent these acts of violence.
The Center for Victims thinks an important part of the equation to stop violence is men.
That’s why the center kicked off its “Men Ending violeNce” (MEN) challenge, which encourages men to pledge to become proactive and speak out if they see violence.
Molly Allwein, Community Relations Coordinator, said men have a voice that women don’t.
“They are able to go into social circles, they are able to say things in situations like…coaching situations with young boys, boy scouts,” Allwein said. “Areas like that that we’re not able to reach as women to spread this message of healthy relationships and anti-bullying, anti-violence.”
Allwein said most of the staff, volunteers and board members for the Center for Victims are women, and they want men to help be a part of the solution to acts of violence.
“We’re asking men to sign a pledge stating that they won’t participate in or accept violence in their life or in their communities,” Allwein said. “And then what we do is we enroll them in a yearlong campaign, and each month we send them educational tips, resources, videos and ask them to take an ‘Action Step.’”
She said one step could be as simple as intervening when other men are making inappropriate comments to women on the street.
According to Allwein, the Center for Victims serves 15- to 16,000 direct victims of crime every year.
She said that trauma affects the way the brain functions and victim’s psychological being.
“You can be financially impacted if you are a victim of assault and you don’t have health insurance, how are you going to pay medical bills?” Allwein said. “You can be spiritually affected if you’re a believer in a higher power and something bad happens that really changes the way you live, that can affect you spiritually, so physically, spiritually, psychologically, financially it affects you in all different ways.”
At Thursday’s kickoff event in Market Square, Stephen Zappala, Allegheny County District Attorney, signed the pledge.
He said the events that took place Wednesday show that violence continues to exist in the community.
Zappala said they want to be preventative and proactive - not just respond to tragedy and violence.
“I think what you’re going to see is a very methodical review of what led this young man to this particular point in his life,” Zappala said. “You know, using a knife to commit violent crime is very personal, and I’m not sure what the psychology of that is, but I’m sure that’s going to be developed at length.”