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New UM Carey Law program aims to stop sexual violence before it starts

Erin smile_edit_edited-1.jpgThe University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law is launching a program to stop sexual violence before it starts by educating elementary and middle school students.

The Erin Levitas Initiative for Sexual Assault Prevention will draw from two UM Carey Law programs: the Gender Violence Clinic, which explores the ways in which gender and violence intersect, and the Center for Dispute Resolution, which promotes the power of effective conflict resolution, the law school announced Tuesday.

The new initiative is named after Levitas, right, who was admitted to UM Carey Law for the Fall 2015 semester but never attended after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. She died at age 22 in January 2016.

A rape victim herself, Levitas planned to use her law degree to help other survivors of sexual assault.

The new initiative will feature law school students trained in sexual violence education and restorative justice working with students under the supervision of a hired expert in an effort “to change attitudes that drive gender violence,” according to the law school.

Teachers, administrators and parents also will receive training in restorative methods of conflict resolution, education on their legal rights and responsibilities and knowledge of when and how to intervene.

“Respect for women and girls can be taught,” Dean Donald Tobin said in a statement. “One of our goals is to create a curriculum that can be replicated at other law schools so that Erin’s mission can spread beyond Maryland and throughout the country.”

The Phyllis L. and Leonard J. Attman Foundation is underwriting the program, with a goal of raising $3 million through the newly created Erin Levitas Foundation to ensure the program continues. (Phyllis and Leonard Attman are Erin’s grandparents.)

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