Violence Prevention in Action

Global Stewardship Conference at St. George’s School for Boys

Young men and boys know they have a role to play when it comes to ending violence against girls and women. What we learned at St. George’s School for Boys is they are open and willing to own their role. With so few social sanctioned opportunities in the mainstream education system for young men to come together to discuss how toxic masculinity not only affects them but also girls and women BWSS is thrilled to collaborate with educators and students to present progressive solutions for 21st century problems.

On February 1st and 2rd St. George’s school in Vancouver held their first ever Global Stewardship Conference inviting speakers from the school and community to speak on a wide range of topics. For the fourth time, Battered Women’s Support Services was invited to lead groups of young men in understanding the role of boys and men in ending violence. Students were provided with numerous options of presentations they could attend and chose their workshops based on interests. BWSS facilitated two workshops, with each group made up of 10-15 young men. Those who attended the BWSS workshop chose to be there because they “wanted to learn more about the issue and what they could do”.

Young men shared, in school, they have never had the opportunity to have this conversation before. With each group we spoke with, participants agreed that awareness and education are key, to change current social norms, stereotypes and what is seen as acceptable when it comes to sexism/ violence against women.

They also highlighted the negative stereotype that boys don’t care about gender issues or that they would be too defensive to have discussions around gender violence. Young men understand that there are pressures on boys and men to be violent, that toxic masculinity not only has negative effects on them personally but contributes to gender violence. The boys appreciated the conversations but also appreciated that there were also take away tools for them to be empowered bystanders. The workshops are more than a presentation but rather a dialogue facilitated by youth volunteers –where ideas are exchanged and group learning can happen.

Since this wasn’t our first time working with young men at St. George’s we remember our previous work an inspired project mentoring young men in a Film and Television Production class to share an important message of gender violence prevention. Watch their video here.

By providing young men and boys’ education and positive examples of masculinity and encouraging them to be empowered bystanders we are taking important steps towards social change.

For more information or to book workshops for youth, call 778-558-7179 or email yev@bwss.org

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