A 'Haven' in a difficult topic

by Janet Smith


One tool in James Madison University’s sexual assault education efforts is Haven, a mandatory online program designed to educate first-year students about sexual assault and relationship violence while empowering them to develop strategies to serve as effective bystanders and make decisions for themselves about healthy relationships.

The university began using Haven, a program developed by Everfi, after using the company’s program since 2012, said Amy M. Sirocky-Meck, associate director, substance abuse prevention, University Health Center, and a member of the JMU Campus Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

“Haven is useful because it is relevant to all students,” Sirocky-Meck said. The program’s personalized approach encourages individuals to consider their own attitudes about relationships and to think about how they would respond to witnessing sexual assault or other relationship incident.

Haven is designed to:

  • Increase confidence in intervening (bystander intervention)
  • Foster positive attitudes and perceptions about healthy relationships

At JMU, Haven is:

  • Completed anonymously by first-year students
  • Completed in the summer in the time between Springboard and 1787 August Orientation (Part 1)
  • Continued about one month after classes begin (Part 2)

About 8,000 JMU students have participated in the Haven program since it was first implemented in 2013. Assessment to date “shows the vast majority of individuals have a healthy concept of relationships,” Sirocky-Meck said. “A small number are in a place where they can learn more. Haven helps in reinforcing the many positive attitudes and beliefs that individuals hold while giving people a chance to grow in their knowledge.”

“Haven in an important part of JMU’s comprehensive approach to sexual assault prevention,” said Sirocky-Meck. “We have been invested in sexual assault education for many years at JMU, and we will continue to be guided by best practice.”

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Aug. 26, 2014

Published: Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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