Chief Technologist of National Network to End Domestic Violence Provides Tips to Help Keep Students Safe on Campus and Online

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Cindy Southworth of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) says every college student should take a few simple steps to increase the student’s privacy and safety online.

Her advice:

  • If you use a social networking, online dating or alumni site, set your profile for “private.”  This will reduce the chance of an abuser or online stalker gaining access to your address, phone number or other personal information.

  • Go to an online search engine such as Google or Yahoo and do a search on your name to find out if your personal information appears on any Web site. If so, contact the provider and ask that it be removed.

  • And, most importantly, trust your instincts. If you suspect an abuser knows too much about you, it is likely that he or she is monitoring your e-mail or phone.

Southworth’s session, titled “Technology: Establishing Safe Habits,” was one of the topics featured at the Verizon Foundation’s 2nd annual Domestic Violence Summit, held Wednesday (Sept. 19) at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center here in conjunction with Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, the University of Kentucky and  NNEDV.

“The statistics are staggering: Up to 25 percent of women will be assaulted during their college career,” said Southworth, chief technologist of the NNEDV and founder and director of the organization’s Safety Net Project.  “Since students are so tech-savvy, we want to harness technology to both educate victims and educate the entire community about what they can do if they fear a friend or acquaintance is in danger.”

Southworth’s tipsheet, “Tech Savvy Students: Choosing who gets to see your info,” is available for free online at www.nnedv.org/TechSavvyStudents.pdf.

The summit also highlighted domestic violence awareness, prevention and training programs, funded by the Verizon Foundation, designed to provide a template for other universities and organizations to follow. The programs include:

  • Workplace Responses to Domestic Violence – A comprehensive training program designed by Penn State University for employees and students in partnership with the Centre County Women’s Resource Center. The program includes a Web-based training component and a documentary, produced by Penn State Public Broadcasting, which tells the story of a 2001 domestic violence homicide case.

  • Violence Against Women Continuing Education Program – A two-year program at Rutgers University to train professionals to identify domestic violence victims and teach appropriate techniques to intervene and assist the victim. The goal of the program is to create an interactive, Web-based curriculum that can be used by universities across the country.

  • Answers Through Research – An innovative program at the University of Kentucky that will include research in five specific areas to create a comprehensive picture of the affects of domestic violence. Study areas are: violence against women, focused on women’s health; women’s mental health; children who witness violence; race, ethnicity and culture; and offender studies.

“Domestic violence is a societal problem that affects every community, even college campuses, said Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston. “We’re hopeful that the tools and programs showcased at our Domestic Violence Awareness Summit will prove to be valuable resources for college and university leaders across the country to help educate students, faculty and the public about the issue and improve response.” 

For those interested in learning more about the issue of domestic violence and university programs to address the problem, the summit can be viewed in its entirety at: http://live.libraries.psu.edu/mediasite/Catalog/

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is committed to improving literacy and K-12 education; fostering awareness and prevention of domestic violence; and promoting the use of technology in health-care delivery. In 2006, the foundation awarded more than $69 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched charitable donations from Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $29 million in combined contributions. Under the foundation’s Verizon Volunteer initiative, one of the nation’s largest employee-volunteer programs, company employees and retirees have also contributed nearly 3 million hours of community service since Verizon’s inception in 2000.

For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 62 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.