Abuse is not restricted to intimate relationships. The misuse of power – intimidation, isolation, humiliation, fear, threats, putdowns – may also be evident in friendships, families or workplace.


Where do I begin?

Never before has the need for violence prevention programming been more urgent. We applaud your concern and your willingness to take up the challenge. We have created the curriculum-linked CHOICES for Positive Youth Relationships program at the request of educators and with their input, so that the program is relevant, effective and very user-friendly.

First step is to take some time to review the program and discuss with your fellow educators the best implementation model for your school. You may choose a cross-curricular whole-school approach or a subject-based program. Decide who will deliver the program – teachers, school-based professionals, community partners, peer facilitators, or a combination of all. It will be time well spent if educators develop liaisons with community organizations who will provide a valuable resource for facilitator training, program delivery and follow-up support.

Read more about creating a comfortable learning environment in CHOICES for Positive Youth Relationships section

How should I handle a disclosure?

Most likely during this program, one or more young person will disclose that s/he has experienced or perpetrated an act of violence or has seen others in his/her family or peer group abused. Facilitators first need to understand their obligations under the law and their safe school policy. Generally speaking, it is wise for facilitators to discourage extensive disclosure in front of the large group but to try to direct disclosing participants to the professionals available to assist them. However, in doing so, it is essential that disclosing participants not feel shamed or rejected by the referral. A referral is intended to support, not silence, a disclosing participant.

Listen attentively without blaming and validate the feelings being expressed. Express your sorrow that the violence has occurred and assure the discloser that s/he is not alone. Attempt to refer to an available professional and assure the discloser of your continued support. Remember that there are very complicated dynamics involved in an abusive relationship and changing the way someone thinks about themselves and their relationship is sometimes slow and frustrating. Check out our Support Tips page.

What community resources are available?

Violence prevention programs are most successful when they model a collaborative and cooperative approach. It is critical that we give our youth the message that there is a whole community who cares about them and can offer information and support to them. Community organizations provide a valuable resource for facilitator training, program delivery and follow-up support. Consider community partners such as social workers, psychologists, victim services, public health nurses, police officers, shelter workers, clergy, health care professionals, cross-cultural service providers and parents. Use their experience and expertise as guest speakers, panel participants or co-presenters. Many professionals and agencies are already committed to public education and will welcome the opportunity to work together to develop a strong effective program. At the very least, we strongly encourage you to invite to the classroom a police officer, who can speak to the legal aspects of abuse, and counsellors, who have the expertise to handle disclosures and give effective follow-up support.

Is there training available?

The CHOICES for Positive Youth Relationships program was designed so educators have a relevant and effective resource that does not necessitate additional training. The Facilitator Guide includes 6 step-by-step lessons that link to existing provincial curriculum expectations, facilitator background notes, alternative or optional activities, assessment suggestions and a comprehensive list of resources. In addition, we suggest how to build a community support network, create a comfortable learning environment and handle disclosures effectively.

However the Speers Society is available for training workshops, speaking engagements, or can provide a training CD Rom for in-service.