The #Metoo movement has worked hard to show the world just how many women and men deal with and have dealt with assault in their lifetime. For some, it’s been in the workplace. Others, it’s when they were children. In an effort to keep everyone safe, organizations like Not Me! have risen to the challenge of educating everyone in identifying dangerous behaviors and understanding how to not be a victim of grooming or sexual assault.
“It’s pretty important to me as well as important to the law,” said Carver County Sheriff Jason Kamerud. “I think we have the potential to change, and help lower the assault rates.”
According the Not Me!’s website, one in four women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime, one in thirteen young adults will have their drinks spiked, and one in seven children will be groomed for assault. Numbers that high mean that, more than likely, there’s someone in every friend or family group that has had at least one of these experiences.
What makes Not Me! different than many support organizations, though, is their effort to prevent assaults from ever happening. To do this, the organization teaches classes for all ages, and according to Kamerud, each presentation is appropriated for the age group. The reasoning behind this, while unfortunate, is simple: assault and grooming can happen to anyone, so it’s best if folks are prepared.
Because of the importance of this to a community, Kamerud organized three classes around the county. One took place on May 4 in Cologne, and another on May 7 in Chaska. The final class will take place in Watertown’s city hall on May 11. The classes aren’t for adults, though. Instead, the group the classes are focusing on for this particular round are kids between grades 6 and 8.
“We originally wanted to have these for high schoolers, but when we called the group they recommended the class for middle school instead,” said Kamerud. “They said they’ve noticed more results in kids that age.”
The class itself costs $30, and will take place from 9:30am-11am. The kids will go over several topics, including self-defense tactics, who and how to tell, and even understanding the natural “creep meter” to help them stay out of potentially dangerous situations. The class will take place in Watertown’s City Hall at 309 Lewis Ave S.
Not Me! was founded by Al Horner, a Navy SEAL who now devotes his time to the organization and authored the book Not Me. All the other team members also have personal experiences with assault, a passion for preventing it, or have worked with prevention before. They don’t just do classes for children, but also adults in order. The classes listed in this article were organized and partially paid for by Carver County sheriffs and Chaska police.
“I find it very worthwhile and I think it’s the right direction for our community,” said Kamerud. “If we can do these things to help prevent a sexual assault, it’s better than trying to investigate it after the fact.”