From an Outreach Worker’s perspective:

I have been speaking to youth in many capacities for many years. For the last few years I have been fortunate enough to speak at St Benedict’s high school in Cambridge. I have been able to reach out to all of the students that have attended this school in the last few years so now my focus is solely on Grade 9 students. The topic that is discussed is in regards to healthy vs unhealthy relationships. The students seem to enjoy learning about current statistics in our region. They are often shocked to learn that Waterloo Regional Police Services respond to approximately 6000 domestic incidents on a yearly basis. It is always interesting to hear students discuss who they believe to be victims of domestic violence. We spend some time breaking down some of these stereotypes.

Students also seem shocked to learn that when their partners constantly text them or phone them that this in fact could be a warning sign of control. At first some of them even say that their partner’s jealous tendencies are endearing. Most of the conversations are full of enthusiasm and participation. However domestic violence is a difficult topic to discuss, so at times the room can become somewhat silent. I make sure to stay after the classes are over as often there are youth that want to discuss their own situation. Some of these students felt at ease to share in the larger group but often they feel more comfortable disclosing on a more personal basis. Many students also have inquired about volunteering at one of our shelters. It is a particularly interesting thought for them to use their high school volunteer hours to help women and children who have been exposed to domestic violence.   I look forward to the continued partnership with St Benedicts as well as possibly reaching out to other schools in the area.