Volume 93, Issue 49

Thursday, November 25, 1999


Mercer talks to council

Student definition changed by USC

Recommendations for BOG revealed tonight

Western helping to make sure the kids are all right

Archives may settle controversy


Bass Ackwards

Western helping to make sure the kids are all right

By Karen Robbins
Gazette Writer

Students educating students – who would have thought?

As part of a violence prevention program entitled Bombs, over 140 Western students participated in training sessions this fall to teach them how to talk to high school students about issues surrounding violence, said Ray Hughes, violence prevention co-ordinator with the Thames Valley school board.

The Western students are currently making their way through high school classes in the London area to talk to high schoolers about the daily issues they face, Hughes said. "For the first time in North America, university students are facilitating discussions with regards to ending violence in high schools."

These sessions train students to deal with difficult issues such as physical, psychological and emotional abuse, as well as abuses of power and control, Hughes explained.

Paul MacGregor, violence prevention student co-ordinator for the department of equity services at Western, said the visits are extremely effective with the high school students. "Prior to our visits, most of the students didn't even know what abuse was," he said.

Gareth Harris, a third-year political science student and participant in the project, said the program was very effective with the older students he has spoken with.

However, when he visited a Grade 9 class, he said, the students were not as receptive. "I don't know if it was a lack of maturity, but they didn't get as involved as the older students."

Western students have visited 60 classrooms thus far, MacGregor said. "A similar program is being developed where high school students will go to elementary schools and lead discussions," he said.

"There are a lot of realities for kids that adults and teachers don't recognize," said Liza Veldhuis, MacGregor's partner in the project. "We're not telling them what to do, we're talking to them and helping them work through their problems."

Charlene Foster, volunteer and public educator at the Sexual Assault Centre in London, helped train Western students about sexual assault and said the project is important for young people. "We're finding this kind of information is needed for people at a younger and younger age," she said.

The feedback from the high schools has been very positive, Hughes added. "We have found that if we use the student's peers to talk to them about violence, there isn't the same respect." he said. "University students are positive role models to high school students."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999