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Sara CrannSara Crann is leading “Girl, you got this!” a program to help young women effectively resist sexual coercion and assault.

Federal funding to bring “Flip the Script” to a younger audience

Recognizing “red flags” and building skills to prioritize safety in dating relationships for girls in their early teens is the impetus behind a UWindsor research project newly funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Girl, you got this! a program that will adapt, test, and deliver an intervention to focus on helping young women effectively resist sexual coercion and assault, is led by postdoctoral fellow Sara Crann under the direction of psychology and women’s studies professor Charlene Senn. $991,017 in research support was announced Monday by Maryam Monsef, minister of status of women.

The project is being conducted in partnership with community organizations and young women between 14 and 17 years old, who serve on a Girls’ Research and Advisory Committee. The committee will collaborate on adapting Dr. Senn’s Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act (EAAA) Sexual Assault Resistance Program — also known to students as “Flip the Script.”

Flip the Script is currently aimed at university-aged women and is delivered in small group settings over several sessions. The program was previously evaluated with university women and found to significantly reduce rates of sexual assault. Dr. Crann plans to adapt the evidence-based success of the program for a younger audience and present it through organizations and groups serving girls and women, and through school boards across Ontario.

“Over the next five years our goal is to create a version of EAAA that resonates with teen girls with diverse identities and backgrounds,” says Crann. “High school is a critical period for sexual violence prevention because rates of coercion and assault are particularly high during adolescence.”

She says the funding gives researchers the opportunity to work with and for young women to produce an effective, empowering program that will help them build skills and confidence to resist sexual violence in dating and acquaintance relationships.

“I am absolutely delighted that this very important and timely initiative is receiving the support needed to make a real and lasting difference for our youth,” said K.W. Michael Siu, UWindsor’s vice-president, research and innovation.