Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2014
 L – R: Michael Durham, Community Relations Manager, Piedmont Natural Gas; GCS Superintendent Burke Royster; Becky Callaham, Executive Director, Safe Harbor
L – R: Michael Durham, Community Relations Manager, Piedmont Natural Gas; GCS Superintendent Burke Royster; Becky Callaham, Executive Director, Safe Harbor

The Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation recently announced a $25,000 grant in support of a pilot program to train teachers and school personnel on dating and domestic violence among teenagers in Greenville County. Piedmont awarded the grant to Safe Harbor Inc., a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence in the Upstate of South Carolina.

Piedmont’s grant will fund a Teacher Training Initiative created by Safe Harbor’s dating violence prevention program called the Relationship Education Project. Safe Harbor has partnered with Greenville County Schools for the three-part program that will offer training for guidance counselors, teachers and school staff by:

According to arrest records, Greenville County has had the highest number of domestic violence victims in the state (4,370 victims in 2012), and investigators identify an average of 12 new domestic violence victims per day. Safe Harbor estimates one in three students will experience dating violence by the age of 18, and two-thirds will never report the abuse to anyone.

“Piedmont Natural Gas stands behind Safe Harbor’s mission to break the cycle of domestic violence,” said Tim Greenhouse, Managing Director of Community Relations for Piedmont Natural Gas. “With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, this is the perfect time to begin work on this training program for the teachers and staff of Greenville County Schools.”

“With the domestic violence rates being so high in South Carolina, Safe Harbor is committed to providing a robust awareness and training effort that can point people in the direction of help and hope,” said Becky Callaham, Executive Director at Safe Harbor. “The investment that Piedmont Natural Gas has made with this grant will not only provide the School District of Greenville County with relevant training on a problem that has become an epidemic in South Carolina, but also allow us critical resources to work together in addressing it.”

The Relationship Education Project is the prevention piece of Safe Harbor’s three-pronged strategic plan, which includes domestic violence prevention, domestic violence intervention and advocacy surrounding the issue.

“We recognize the importance of safety and violence prevention within our schools,” said Rob Rhodes, Director of School Counseling Services for Greenville County Schools. “We are thrilled to work with Safe Harbor and need community partners such as Piedmont Natural Gas to support these types of projects.”

Through the Teacher Training Initiative, Safe Harbor will provide districtwide training for teachers, coaches, guidance counselors and other school personnel to identify and respond to signs of violent relationships among students. The training program is scheduled to be in place by next year and implemented throughout the 2015-2016 school year.

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