|For Immediate Release|
|Monday, April 24, 1995|
Students Set Violence Awareness and Prevention Day April 28
High School Student Survey Shows Support for Peer Mediation to Resolve Violence
Malden - Students in dozens of Massachusetts public high schools have set Friday, April 28 as the first annual "Violence Awareness and Prevention Day," and will wear green ribbons and buttons to school to symbolize their interest in school safety.
The student initiative was sponsored by the State Student Advisory Council, a 600-member advisory group to the Massachusetts Board of Education created by state law two decades ago, whose chair Erin M. Megin, a senior at Westboro H.S., sits as a voting member of the Board.
Also, the Student Advisory Council recently conducted a survey of 1,576 high school students to assess student views on violence in school. Five questions were asked in the survey.
Students were asked "How often do you feel that acts of violence occur in your school?" Some 28%said monthly, 27%said weekly, 21%said daily, and 15% saidonce a semester.
Students were asked, "What do you feel is the primary cause of violence in your school?" The largest proportion (29%) said relationships, while 19% said discrimination. When asked "What do you feel is the secondary cause of violence in your school?" some 23% said discrimination and another 23% said relationships.
Students were also asked, "What are the answers to solving these problems in your school?" The largest number (31%) said peer mediation, while 18% alike said education and police intervention.
Students were also asked, "What do you do to protect yourself from violence?" The large majority (61%) reported that they avoid or ignore it, while 12%said they have a confrontation (verbal or physical) and 10% reported carrying a weapon.
Commenting on the student initiative and survey, Commissioner of Education Robert V. Antonucci said "The student initiative to promote public awareness of violence is a very important component of helping to make schools and communities safe from violence. The fact that so many high school students are aware of this issue and interested in doing a part in helping to resolve it through peer mediation is cause for hope."
"When children demand safe schools and safe communities, no one will be able to resist that momentum. The children often are the best voices for making changes, and for enlisting the support of the community leaders and the many powerful constituencies like the elderly and the business community whose help will be essential to creating and sustaining safe schools and neighborhoods," Antonucci added.
Erin Megin added, "These first steps must be taken by students to end violence in our schools. No one else fundamentally can make the changes for us. We have to start with ourselves and our peers."