Cut It Out Program Teaches Students to Recognize Warning Signs and Become Familiar With Community Resources
MEDFORD – Last week, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan spoke to cosmetology and health assistance students at Medford Vocational Technical High School as part of the Cut It Out Middlesex program. Participants in the training learned how to spot signs of domestic violence and how to safely refer clients to local community service providers. District Attorney Ryan hosted the free training with Deborah Fallon, founder of the nonprofit organization Portal To Hope, which provides services to victims of domestic violence in Medford and the surrounding communities.
This training is part of the public-private partnership started by District Attorney Ryan in 2009 to bring the national domestic violence prevention program Cut It Out to high school vocational programs, professional training academies and private salons across Middlesex County. The program also introduces and aligns participants with domestic violence service agencies, as well as specialized domestic violence officers from local police departments.
“The Cut It Out program recognizes the unique opportunity that individuals in the cosmetology profession have to observe some of the less conspicuous signs of domestic violence, like missing hair or bruising,” said District Attorney Ryan. “Through this training, we look to reach victims of abuse in a non-traditional setting by providing salon professionals, who are often trusted by their clients, with the tools to help identify an unhealthy situation and to safely refer someone in need to community resources that can help.”
In an effort to expand Cut It Out training across the Commonwealth, District Attorney Ryan has partnered with State Representative Christine Barber to spearhead legislation that would require licensed aestheticians, barbers, cosmetologists, electrologists, hairdressers, manicurists, and massage therapists to complete one hour of domestic violence and sexual assault awareness training upon receiving or renewing their license to practice.
“It was a great experience to meet with cosmetology students participating in this training and to learn more about Cut It Out, which District Attorney Ryan has had so much success with in Middlesex County,” said Representative Barber. “By filing the new bill HD2547, I am working to ensure statewide access to programs like Cut It Out and offer better community response and resources to victims of domestic violence across Massachusetts.”
Domestic violence is a major public safety and public health issue. The World Health Organization estimates that one in three women experience sexual or physical violence. This new bill recognizes the value of expanding education about domestic violence and sexual assault in a community setting. Under the new bill licensed practitioners would be protected from any criminal or civil liability.
Following the training students from the cosmetology program provided haircuts, facials and manicures for survivors from REACH Beyond Domestic Violence. Culinary students also prepared and served the attendees a complimentary lunch as part of the service component of the District Attorney’s program.
“District Attorney Ryan’s initiative provides an important insight to our students. It helps them to recognize that their professional responsibilities go far beyond providing cosmetology services. Utilizing the skills taught by the District Attorney’s Cut It Out Program, they can make a real contribution in identifying and preventing domestic abuse, thereby saving lives,” said Roy E. Belson, Superintendent of Schools, Medford Public Schools.
“Having the Honorable District Attorney Ryan and her colleagues present to our Cosmetology and Health Assisting students was a great opportunity. The students, as they prepare for the workforce, received relevant knowledge on how to identify and assist those women who may need supports from organizations such as Portal to Hope. It was an unbelievable experience for our students to be able to learn and become knowledgeable in this very important problem. Programs like this provides deeper understanding of their impact to the community within the workplace,” added Heidi T. Riccio, Principal/Director, Medford Vocational Technical High School.
The training program was also attended by community leaders including, State Representative Paul Donato, Medford Mayor Stephanie Burke, City Councilor Rick Caraviello, a representative from Congresswoman Katherine Clark’s Office and Medford School Committee member Kathy Kreatz.
Cut It Out Middlesex started at local vocational and technical high school training programs to create awareness around the issue of domestic violence at the earliest stage of students’ professional development. The Cut It Out program was conceived and first implemented in 2002 in Alabama and has become the national program of the Salons Against Domestic Abuse Fund, which is dedicated to mobilizing salon professionals and others to recognize signs of abuse and to fight the epidemic of domestic violence in communities across the United States. To date, District Attorney Ryan has trained over 1,700 individuals through the Cut It Out Program.
Portal To Hope is a non-profit organization committed to helping victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking crimes. Portal To Hope offers a variety of programs and services which assist victims to begin the healing process and helps to rebuild self-esteem. Portal To Hope also works directly with local community leaders and organizations, as well as members of the state legislature desiring to end the cycle of violence in their communities. Portal To Hope’s clients are new & existing victims from various communities throughout Massachusetts. They have programs with the cities of Everett, Lynn, Malden, Medford, Winthrop and neighboring Massachusetts communities.
For more information or to inquire about how to bring Cut It Out Middlesex training to your salon, contact Director of Community Partnerships Shawn MacMaster at 781-897-8300.