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A call to young girls for help in important UWindsor study

It's a startling stat that Dr. Charlene Senn wants to lower.

“About 50 per cent of all of the rapes that are experienced by women happen by the time we're 18,” explained the UWindsor professor who created an education program at the university for women.

She said the program helped cut attempted and complete rape by 50 per cent in the year it was introduced, with results lasting two years.

“I know that stat and teachers were always talking to me about like, ‘Ok, you just said that, why isn't this for younger girls?’”

A member of the psychology department and women's and gender studies at the University of Windsor, Senn said the problem of sexual violence against those who identify as girls and women is very high.

With researchers in Kingston and London, as well as Windsor, Senn is trying to take the Girls Resist Project to the next level.

The project has received funds from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“To do a deep adaptation where we do focus groups with girls, we had a girls advisory and we made a really good adaptation that takes girls' current lives into account,” Senn said.

Researchers are looking for teen girls to participate in a study to help grow the program. Discussion, activities and even self-defence techniques are all part of the course.

The owner of Our Riverside Magazine is hosting a seminar at the Windsor Yacht Club Thursday night after taking an order for an ad to promote the study.

“I really wanted to be a part of this. I think that what they're doing for this program is going to be so beneficial. These are traumas that can affect somebody for the rest of their lives,” said Christine Withington.

Senn said approximately 50 per cent of sexual assaults are committed by people who know each other and is hoping the information gathered as part of the study will help scale the program across Canada.

“By the program end, girls end up with a very big toolbox of verbal and physical strategies but just also a way of knowing their rights, knowing what they want and that they have a right to defend that both their boundaries in sexual and non-sexual situations,” she said.

By being part of the study, girls will receive gift cards and a chance to win prizes while earning school volunteer hours.

To learn more about the Girls Resist Project, you can visit their website Top Stories

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