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Domestic Violence Prevention Program Wins "Bright Idea" Award from Harvard

October 1, 2010

Cut It Out Cambridge, a new domestic violence prevention initiative, earned a "Bright Idea" designation from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Cut It Out Cambridge trains hair stylists how to recognize signs of abuse among their clients and how to safely refer them to local resources. The initiative, which launched in 2009, is sponsored by the Cambridge Public Health Department and the Cambridge Commission on the Status of Women. 

"Most victims of domestic violence never call the police or go to a shelter, but they do talk about the abuse with someone they trust," said Alexandra Detjens, who directs the initiative and is the Violence Prevention Coordinator at the Cambridge Public Health Department. "Salon professionals are skilled and experienced listeners, and many women and men suffering from abuse feel comfortable confiding in them," she explained.

Detjens added that salon professionals can often spot signs of physical abuse or changes in a client’s behavior that others close to the person may not notice.

The Cambridge program is modeled on a national campaign called "Cut It Out," and has been tailored to meet the specific needs of Cambridge. So far, 15 Cambridge salons have participated in the Cut It Out training. This fall, the health department will continue to train new salons and will begin recruiting barbershops to participate in the program, since men can also be victims of domestic violence.

As a community, Cambridge has taken a strong stand on domestic violence. In 1994, the city launched the Domestic Violence Free Zone campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence and to increase services available in Cambridge. Recent efforts have included trainings for hospital staff on best practices for screening patients for domestic violence, a pamphlet for Cambridge businesses on how to respond to employees facing domestic violence, and healthy relationships workshops for teens.

Bright Ideas is an initiative of the Ash Center’s Innovations in Government Program, which spotlights exemplary models of government innovation and advances efforts to address the nation’s most pressing public concerns.  The 2010 "Bright Ideas" awardees represent 173 government programs from 43 states and the District of Columbia.

To request a training or to learn more about Cut It Out Cambridge, contact Alexandra Detjens at adetjens@challiance.org or 617-665-3816.

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Cambridge Public Health Department (www.cambridgepublichealth.org) is a municipal health agency operated by Cambridge Health Alliance through a contract with the City of Cambridge. The department’s mission is to improve the quality of life of residents and workers by reducing sickness and injury; encouraging healthy behaviors; and fostering safe and healthy environments. Service areas include communicable disease prevention and control, epidemiology, school health, environmental health, emergency preparedness, health promotion, and regulatory enforcement.

The Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation (www.ash.harvard.edu) advances excellence and innovation in governance and public policy through research, education, and public discussion. Three major programs support our mission: the Program on Democratic Governance; the Innovations in Government Program; and the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia.


Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer

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