Education Update: What ARE we teaching them?
By Sean O’Connell, Educator
This was a great year for sexual violence education! Demand for our programs was higher than ever and we are quickly becoming the source for bystander intervention programming in our area. One great initiative that started this year was The Burden of a Backpack: Junior High Edition. This student-led activity is a spin-off of our already successful elementary bystander intervention program The Burden of a Backpack.
Both versions of the presentation help build empathy while encouraging students to become “upstanders” instead of simply being bystanders. Students are given the chance to practice “upstander” behavior by helping a peer who acts out the part of a bullying victim.
This year also saw collaboration with Cony High School to orchestrate their first White Ribbon Campaign this year. The White Ribbon Campaign is an initiative where men take an anti-violence pledge and wear a white ribbon to symbolize that commitment. We were lucky to have national sexual violence prevention educator and director of We End Violence Jeff Bucholtz as keynote speaker to the student body. Our tabling event just prior to the talk gave students valuable information about our agency and what they could do to help prevent sexual violence.
Finally, as a sign of solidarity between ourselves and the schools we serve, we crafted memorandums of understanding (MoUs) to outline our mutual commitment to ending sexual violence. Here are the schools and school districts that have shown us their support by signing these documents:
MSAD/RSU 49 (Fairfield)
MSAD/RSU 54 (Skowhegan)
MSAD/RSU 59 (Madison)
MSAD/RSU 74 (Carrabec)
AOS 92 (Waterville/Winslow)
St. John’s Catholic School
Kennebec Valley Community College
Augusta Area Schools
Gardiner Area Schools
For a total of over 42 schools that have signed a formal MOU with our agency to work collaboratively in order to best meet the needs of our students in helping to reduce the risk and prevent Sexual Violence.
This list is impressive but even more impressive was the vocal support from teachers, guidance counselors, and students who rallied together to make this all possible. I owe them a tremendous amount of gratitude and wish them all a very relaxing summer.