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Students work with police on healthy relationship campaign

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.
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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 Secondary School.

"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.




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