What can I do to make a difference? Part 2

It has been a hectic week or so for this member of the Girls Fight Back crew.  After planning and holding a public rally here in NC for PAVE’s Rape IS Rape initiative, I hopped on a plane and headed to California for a training with Gavin de Becker & Associates.

As I have mentioned before on the blog, Gavin de Becker is the author of what I believe to be the absolute best personal safety books available.  Some of the titles include: The Gift of Fear, Protecting the Gift, and Fear Less.  In addition to being a writer, Mr. de Becker runs one of the leading safety and violence prevention agencies in the world.  He has created an incredible threat assessment tool called MOSAIC (its domestic violence threat assessment version is available for free for DV agencies), provided protection detail for some of the biggest celebrities and political figures in the world and played a role in assessing the lessons learned from some of the biggest violent tragedies our world has ever seen.  I would be willing to bet that the GdB folks have also played a big role in preventing numerous violent tragedies that we never heard about, but would have rocked our lives if no intervention had occurred.

I could type pages and pages about the amazing things I learned and people I met, but I think it boils down to one thing.  After any violent incident occurs, we always hear people say things like “no one could have seen it coming” or “there is nothing we could have done.”  And if there is one thing I learned, it is that nearly every attack or violent occurrence has numerous opportunities for prevention.

After heading home from the training, it felt like I barely had time to do laundry and re-pack before heading off to Chicago to give more Girls Fight Back and Women Fight Back programs.  My first stop was at Morton High School.  The program was at 9:45am and it was three hours away from where I was staying.  Needless to say, I got up at about 4am, got as presentable as possible when you get up at the crack of dawn, and drove through the beautiful Illnois cornfields heading out to the Pumpkin Capital of the World (Morton, IL).

I have always had a secret fear of presenting to high schoolers because well, I am a big dork and I had my doubts that my geeky sense of humor would go over well at a high school.  But, man was I wrong!  Those girls loved the program and I loved them right back.

After the program was over, I was greeted by about 7 girls who asked me questions about groundfighting and what they could do at their school to make it safer.  We weren’t able to really finish our discussion, so I thought I would post some ideas here that go along with the “what can I do to make a difference” theme!  So here are some ideas for things you can do to make your school a safer place.  Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments!

-Start a Students Against Violence Club – Check out Students Against Violence Everywhere or form your own anti-violence club

-Talk to your teachers and administrators about your experiences, your fears, and your worries

– Start a conflict resolution or peer mediation program at your school

-Don’t be afraid to tell adults what is going on.  If you see a weapon or hear someone make threats, tell someone.

-Learn safe routes for getting to and from school and stick to them.  Know good places to seek help along your route just in case.

-Host anti-violence events at your school.  Things like Random Acts of Kindness Day ( give students stickers for each random act of kindness they do and give a prize to the top earners at the end of the day), an anti-violence themed poster contest (get clubs involved and offer a prize like an ice cream sundae party), or a day of silence for victims of violence.  Talk to local businesses about donating prizes for these events and be sure to get your PTA and local agencies involved.

You’d be amazed at what a difference student-led anti violence campaigns can make at your school!  Check back for more ideas and for details about my recent gigs at Lake Forest College and Glen Ellyn Public Library!

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