Positive youth relationships stressed

Many youths, parents, and community members attended a presentation at the Sunset Country Métis Hall here Thursday afternoon by Dawna Speers on making positive choices for healthy youth relationships.
Speers shared the personal experience of losing her daughter, Monica, who was murdered by her boyfriend when she was 19 years old.
“We need to teach our children that abuse is not acceptable at any level,” she stressed.
Speers based her presentation around the program she has developed called CHOICES for Positive Youth Relationships.
It consists of a curriculum for students in the classroom and the documentary “A Love that Kills”—the story of the events leading up to her daughter’s death.
Speers said she personally has experienced how speaking about abuse and its warning signs can affect people. After the murder of her daughter, she felt the need to share the story.
“I decided I would like to tell her story to some youths,” she said. “Not only did they listen, they went out to tell there friends, and they told their friends.”
Since then, Speers has travelled around Canada sharing Monica’s story in order to try to help other young people avoid the same fate.
“When I go into schools, I ask them what they think abuse is,” she said. “They usually say it is physical. They don’t think about the emotional part that is chipping away at the self-confidence.”
Speers often shares the message that abuse has nothing to do with age.
“Abuse and bullying are one in the same. As people get older, they get better at it,” she remarked.
“Abuse has a huge rippling effect. I am trying to educate people about abusive behaviour to stop the rippling effect.”
Speers followed her talk with “A Love that Kills,” produced by the National Film Board, which is its best-selling documentary ever. She conceded the popularity of the film is both good and bad.
“It means people are hearing the message. At the same time, it wouldn’t have been a best-seller if there wasn’t so many abused men and women,” she reasoned.
Before showing the documentary last Thursday, Speers explained all the actors playing roles in Monica’s life were reading from statements made at the murder trial.
The film’s main focus is to explain the warning signs of abusive relationships through Monica’s, which ended in murder.
Some of the warnings signs mentioned in the movie were:
•Do they isolate you from friends and family?
•Do they guilt trip to get their own way?
•Do they treat you like trash and put you down in front others?
•Do they stop you from talking to members of the opposite sex?
•Have you ever experienced physical violence?
Speers also staged two days of seminars here for professionals in the community to understand how to implement the program into the curriculum.

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