Massachusetts officials are poised to launch their first public awareness campaign around sexual assault and domestic violence in nearly 20 years, an effort Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said will look to help teens learn about respect and healthy relationships.
"Obviously the time is overdue to have that public conversation, and we will," Polito said at a Wednesday afternoon meeting of the Governor's Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, which she chairs.
The council, formed by an executive order four months after Gov. Charlie Baker took office in 2015, released a report Wednesday highlighting its accomplishments to date and next steps for the future. Among the forthcoming efforts is the public awareness campaign, expected to launch by spring 2019.
The Department of Public Health in September chose MORE Advertising, a women-led company out of Watertown, to assist in developing the campaign.
The campaign, as previewed at the council meeting, will be aimed at middle school and high school youth between the ages of 12 and 18, with a secondary audience of parents, caregivers and coaches. It will focus on healthy relationships, including both friendships and romantic relationships.
The last of 11 focus groups with youth is planned for Thursday in Marshfield.
Polito said the campaign's message will aim to "help early teens and older teens that might be struggling with what's appropriate or not to develop strategies and also a better context around respect and what is acceptable and prepare them for the next steps after high school, whether they go to a college campus or into the workplace, and be able to develop a resiliency and proactiveness around healthy relationships."
"That should lead to a prevention of assaults and a prevention of violence that, unfortunately, is taking place in too many individuals and too many homes in this commonwealth," she said.
This report was originally published by State House News Service.