Project BOLD

Girls Inc. Project BOLD®

Helping Girls Live Safer Lives

Girls Incorporated is deeply concerned about the magnitude of violence in girls’ lives. According to a 1997 survey, 30 percent of high school students said that violence and crime were the most-important concerns that school-age children face. Violence against girls is tolerated, especially when committed by people they know. Too often the victims are blamed.

Many girls face violence somewhere in their communities (street violence, no safe place to go, neighborhoods that fear kids rather than protect them); at home (family violence); at school (teasing, bullying, sexual harassment, verbal and physical fights). In a 1997 survey, about half (46 percent) of girls surveyed did not always feel safe in the neighborhood where they lived and one in four girls in grades 9 through 12 (26 percent) has been the victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or date-forced sex.

Violence in girls’ lives involves a complicated mixture of environmental, social, and psychological factors. New risks and pressures arise with each developmental stage. In response to our deep concern about the complicated interplay between violence, age, and gender, Girls Incorporated created Project BOLD, a comprehensive, research-based program designed to help girls and young women avoid, address, and cope with violence.


Girls and young women can learn skills, techniques, and attitudes to help them live safer lives and overcome the effects of past abuse.
Teaching violence-prevention strategies and advocating for social change takes time, requires a developmental approach, and a long-term commitment.


Girls who experience violence are more likely to take risks with their health and safety. Girls who report having been physically and/or sexually abused are more likely than girls who have not been abused to have symptoms of high stress, depression and low self-confidence, and are at high risk for substance abuse.


Project BOLD will eventually include four developmentally appropriate programs. Already completed and available is Action For Safety – a self-defense and violence prevention program developed in cooperation with The Center for Anti-Violence Education for girls, ages 9–11. Kid-Ability! is a child-abuse prevention program for girls 6–8.

Independent evaluator Fern Marx, a Senior Research Scientist at the Wellesley College Center for Women and Girls, commented on the effectiveness of Action for Safety, “As an observer and evaluator, I was particularly struck by how important it is to provide girls with concrete examples of how to defend themselves coupled with the ability to evaluate situations in terms of one’s personal safety. The discussions of difficult and sensitive topics, that are also a core part of this curriculum make this program particularly effective in ensuring that girls experience what it means to be listened to and taken seriously.”

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Copyright © 2000 Girls Incorporated