BY COLE RIVARD
The Greater Sudbury Police Service and proactive high school
students ended their two-month campaign to fight sexual assault
and relationship violence last week.
Student representatives attended a workshop at the
Howard-Johnson Plaza Hotel Wednesday to talk about how the
Choices for Positive Youth Relationships campaign was carried
out at their schools.
Students used a variety of methods to get awareness messages
heard including performance and visual art. Anti-violence
T-shirts were created by students at MacDonald-Cartier
"This campaign began as a survey given to students...to
determine what sort of issues make them uncomfortable. Sexual
assault, rape and relationship violence were common concerns
surrounding youth in the area,"said Const. Bert Lapalme.
"One of the major concerns surrounding these subjects is
that victims of these crimes often feel ashamed, and because of
this, these crimes often go unreported," he added.
The campaign started in March with a two-day conference for
student representatives on sexual assault and relationship
violence. The guest speaker was Dawna Speers. Her daughter was
murdered by a controlling boyfriend in 1991. The students were
challenged to go back to their schools and tell other students
about some of the dangers and downside of modern dating.
Marlene Rantala, head of guidance at Lockerby High School, said, "I felt it was important to get students involved in a leadership position who perhaps wouldn't normally take on those roles.
"It's great to see students throw ideas back and forth to
each other as to what can be done about sexual assault, rape
and issues of that nature."
"I think an event like this is an excellent way for students
to bounce new ideas off of each other, and to see that any
students who may be suffering in silence can speak up and not
be victims anymore," said Heather Colwell, a student from
Lively District Secondary School.
"By promoting awareness of this type of behavior among
students, what we are hoping to achieve here is not only to
educate students about risks involved with abuse and sexual
assault issues, but also to encourage victims to come forward
so we can get people out of cycles of abuse," Lapalme said.
"Conferences like this give us a chance to address social problems among youth in our community, and I think that is the real strength of the program, to make students aware of problems that they may run across," David Wilkin, another student from Lively, said.