Hampstead and Highgate mums take rape prevention message to schools
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
A former New York City sex crimes prosecutor has teamed up with a TV journalist friend to help prevent teenage rape across London.
Highgate mother Deana Puccio, 46, and Hampstead mother-of-two Allison Havey, also 46, have been touring schools throughout the capital to educate girls about the threat of rape since setting up an awareness project last year.
The American friends, both originally from New York, set up Teenage Rape Awareness and Prevention (TRAaP) in early 2012 and are now set to take the project nationwide.
Ms Puccio, who used to work as a senior assistant district attorney in New York City, said: “I started listening to my daughters and their friends about dating and going out and I thought, ‘they seem very naïve, they are all very cocooned’.
“So I thought, ‘I need to do something because I don’t want them to get into a position they can’t get out of’.”
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So far, the pair have taken TRAaP workshops to 10 schools around London, including exclusive all-girls Channing School, in The Bank, Highgate, and South Hampstead High School, in Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead.
Ms Havey, a writer and television producer, said: “This isn’t meant to intimidate young women but to empower them. It’s not about self-defence but about empowering them.
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“We are not saying you need to be scared – you need to be aware and not make a wrong decision which can make you the victim of sexual assault.”
TRAaP’s workshops are divided into lectures for girls in Years 10 and 11 and separate sessions for Year 13 girls, looking at gap year safety and living away at university.
There are also TRAaP lectures aimed at parents to educate them about the risks faced by their daughters.
The workshops involve hour-long PowerPoint presentations from Ms Puccio and Ms Havey exploring topics including dangers posed by social media and statistics on sexual assault and rape.
Ms Puccio also draws on her own first-hand experience handling sexual crimes as a New York City attorney.
“I’m not preaching morality, I’m teaching reality,” she said. “I’m not telling girls how to dress or how to behave. I talk about my experience from cases – they’re hard-hitting.”
Until now, TRAaP workshops have only been held in independent schools with the funds to expand their curriculums to accommodate the scheme.
Although delighted the project has gained interest from independent schools outside of London, in Hertfordshire and Kent, Ms Havey is desperate to find a way of bringing TRAaP’s message to state schools.
“I’ve spoken to people who have lost their positions for this kind of work because of cuts in budgets,” said Ms Havey. “So we are going into private schools, but we want to go into state schools – it’s tough at the moment.”
For more information about TRAaP, visit www.traap.co.uk or e-mail TRAAPUK@gmail.com