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Green Dot encourages collective voice for safer communities

One of Green Dot's slogans states, "No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something."

Picture a map of Red Wing with tiny red dots in and around the city. These dots signify abuse, neglect and ultimately the choice to justify this behavior. The purpose of Green Dot is to take these behaviors, whether they're stalking, partner abuse, sexual violence or bullying, and turn them into a response. A green dot would replace red on the map and bring prevention and safety to communities.

Research has shown that thousands in the U.S. and around the world suffer the effects of assault and violence each year. On average, 20 people each minute are victims of intimate partner abuse. After success in nearby cities, such as Minneapolis, Green Dot training came to Red Wing to continue its message.

The program was met with support by community members and leaders, such as Health and Human Services, law enforcement, Mayo Clinic Health System staff and school officials. The U.S. and other countries, including Canada, Japan, Italy, Portugal and Guam have caught wind of this movement as well.

"Green Dot is a way of helping people who are opposed to any form of violence," Kris Kvols, certified community Green Dot trainer, said. She also is executive director of HOPE Coalition.

Kris Krols (left) and Kristen Schlauderaff (right) are certified community trainers for Green Dot. (photos by Kit Murray)The training is intended to help adults gain the skills to speak up as an indirect bystander, even those who aren't so comfortable with confrontation. Taking action has a lasting effect by helping create a social norm change so violence doesn't happen in the future, she said.

Two five-hour trainings and one 60-minute session are required to become Green Dot certified. While this commitment may seem daunting, more than 50 people in Red Wing made the time and showed up to learn how to directly intervene in the face of violence.

"It's really working with people to help break down barriers," Kvols said. "We all have barriers to why we don't jump in and participate."

When asking how to get involved, Kvols and other trainers mentioned the variety of ways someone can step up.

"We talk about a couple of different options. One is to intervene directly and go to the person who is about to be harmed or the person causing the harm. Another option is to delegate and get someone else involved," Kvols said.

Kristen Schlauderaff, certified Green Dot trainer and St. Paul's Lutheran Church pastor, brought the knowledge she gained from the program to her church.

"I talked about the Green Dot training a little bit ... circumstances that I was in once and I didn't do anything and asked people what I could have done," Schlauderaff said. "Two weeks later I had somebody come up to me and say 'because of that sermon, I said something and called 911. I never would have done that before.'"

Green Dot has helped those participating start a conversation and realize the many ways to get involved in an abusive situation. From asking a couple arguing in a grocery store if they've dropped a dollar bill to sending a table a dessert, the possibilities of distraction are endless.

"People can get really creative," Kvols said. "That was one of the fun things of watching this diverse group of people go through the training together."

Once trainers are certified, they earn a green dot pin to wear and help continue the conversation. The program has proven to be successful around the world by helping those with barriers do their part and make it known that abuse will never be OK.

The red dots will continue to pop up in cities unless something is done.

"By not doing something, you're saying something," Kvols said.

For those interested, visit www.livethegreendot.com or contact Kvols at 651-388-9360, ext. 9. Groups can request either a one- or five-hour overview session.

Kit Murray

Kit Murray joined Red Wing Republican Eagle in Aug. 2016, covering government, transportation and public safety. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in photojournalism and philosophy. 

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