In 2012, a community readiness assessment conducted by the Sexual Assault Recovery Program revealed a higher prevalence of sexual assaults in Brodhead (1.9 per 500 people) than in Monroe, the county seat (0.7 per 500 people).
This concurred with Brodhead youth reporting more dating violence and sexual assault than the county average on the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Brodhead students also reported a higher use rates of alcohol and higher use rates of marijuana than the county average on the 2011 YRBS.
These findings are consistent with research linking youth alcohol use and the victimization and perpetration of interpersonal violence. (Alcohol and Sexual Assault, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
Presentations on these findings to community groups in Brodhead were the catalyst for forming a community task force in 2013. The task force was led by a local pastor and comprised of leaders from school, faith community, businesses, law enforcement, and parents.
The Task Force continued to meet monthly until November 2013. At that time, members recognized the task force evolving into a coalition and rebranded themselves as Better Brodhead. Better Brodhead was awarded free services for a year through Kristin Mitchell Graphic Arts Services, who developed the organization’s logo design.
In 2014, Better Brodhead entered a relationship with Janesville Mobilizing 4 Change, a Drug Free Community (DFC) Coalition, and successfully applied for a DFC Mentoring grant. Through this grant, Better Brodhead was assigned a Project Coordinator who facilitated the development of Better Brodhead’s organizational structure and community readiness assessment.
As Better Brodhead developed as a coalition, there was recognition of the correlation between substance use and interpersonal violence and the need to work in collaboration with community partners. This led to a revision of the mission statement in July 2015 to:
Better Brodhead engages and supports the community to reduce bullying, dating violence, and youth substance use.
Better Brodhead continues to work collaboratively with community and county partners to address youth substance use through awareness, education and environmental change.