Monthly Archives: August 2012

Social and Emotional Learning and Why it Matters to Our Children – by Lynda Laushway

Social and emotional learning are as important to our children as learning to read and write.  They are skills for life that will support our children to become successful and caring adults.  They are the skills that build community and our relationships with each other and promote fairness and social justice.  They are important both for our work and our personal lives.  Social and emotional learning are the basis of youth healthy relationship skill development and underpin community safety and well-being.

In our complex world, well-rounded youth need to be provided with academics combined with social and emotional learning. Schools have been shown to be ideal places for developing these skills and they can be taught.  Social and emotional competence creates a safe and caring learning environment within schools and improves academic achievements.

Daniel Goleman, author the book entitled Emotional Intelligence, is one of the founders of the Chicago-based Casel organization, . Their focus is on promoting children’s success in school and life and to establish social and emotional learning as an essential part of education.

According to the Casel group, “social and emotional learning promotes young people’s academic success, health, and well-being at the same time that it prevents a variety of problems such as alcohol and drug use, violence, truancy, and bullying. Social and emotional learning helps students become good communicators, cooperative members of a team, effective leaders, and caring, concerned members of their communities. It teaches them how to set and achieve goals and how to persist in the face of challenges. These are precisely the skills that today’s employers consider important for the workforce of the future. Research clearly demonstrates that social and emotional skills can be taught through school-based programs”.

For over a dozen years SWOVA has offered the Respectful Relationships program in SD#64.  The program is based on social and emotional learning. It is important for every student in Canada to have this opportunity in their school.


A Walk Across the Sun, by Lynda Laushway

I literally read this book over 48 hours. “A Walk Across the Sun”, by Corban Addison, is a compelling novel following two young South Asian girls who are betrayed by people that they trusted and sold into slavery, after losing their family in the 2000 Tsunami.  Reading this allowed me to connect on a deeper level to the personal and tragic consequences of world-wide trafficking and sex slavery.  Addison, the author, has a great gift for writing and his background as an American social justice lawyer gives him particular insight.

In fact, trafficking affects almost every country in the world. Forced prostitution and slavery involves millions of women, men and children, and generates over $30 billion per year in profits. While, this is not light summer reading, it is engaging, with important information for anyone interested in developing a deeper understanding of the dynamics of this predatory and secretive global industry.

At the end of the book Addison includes some important educational links:

Shared Hope International at

Fondation Scelles at



Safety Means Everyone: Building a Nurturing GBLTQ Community – by Juli MacDonnell


The last few days, I’ve been having conversations about how to nurture a rural queer community – when Gay, Lesbian, Trans, Bi, Queer (GBLTQ) people feel safe in our community and when they don’t.  I talked to someone at a Youth Drop-In Centre.  He told me of a youth that said he had never been bullied at school for being gay, thanks to the Gay/Straight Alliance at School.  Friends of mine say that they rarely think about it, because they feel so accepted and part of the community.

This is as it should be.  Yet, while I also rarely experience violent or  direct homophobia in my daily life,   when I was  younger, poorer, and more vulnerable, I often had to deal with hostility, derogatory remarks, threats against my livelihood and physical well-being.  I’m aware of the current high suicide rate of questioning youth, many ostracized by their families, friends, and communities because they may be gay, lesbian, or transgendered.  I’ve heard elders talk about their fear of the homophobia they will face when they enter residential care and no longer have the same choices.

When I try to reconcile these disparate experiences of safety and homophobic oppression , I am reminded that my current sense of safety is recent, quite possibly transitory, dependent on many factors outside my individual control – age, the economy, the choices of my neighbours, and the strength of our human rights policies.  Most of all, this reminds me of the importance of working together to build safety for everyone, even when some of us have the temporary grace of comfort.

Dating Violence is on the Rise – by Lynda Laushway

Dating violence is up across Canada according to a recent Statistics Canada report. The numbers, which encompass a wide range of relationships (boyfriends and girlfriends, exes and many permutations of intimate entanglements), were compiled from police reports from urban centres, and they exposed a troubling trend: Victim numbers doubled to 17,028 in 2010 from 8,596 in 2004. In 2010, victims of dating violence surpassed those of spousal violence: 54,100 to 48,700, respectively.

Much of the violence in dating scenarios happens after the relationship is over (57 per cent of perpetrators were exes, according to another Statscan article from 2008).

Women in their late 20s to early 30s were most at risk; that peaked at 35 to 44 for men. Similar to spousal violence, the dating violence included assault, sexual assault and homicide, as well as threats and criminal harassment. Much of it was “common assault” yielding minor or no injuries (such as verbal threats, pushing, slapping, punching and any injury that requires first aid).

Most commonly, the violence was unleashed at the victim’s home, but younger victims aged 15 to 19 were more likely to be assaulted in public – on a street, or at school.

Staff Sergeant Isobel Granger, head of the partner assault unit at Ottawa Police Services, said the young women she sees often have little concept of what boundaries are acceptable to them. Young women “tend to minimize” the behaviour of boyfriends who cyberstalk them, text them obsessively, or demand they refrain from going out alone or with girlfriends. “They give away pieces of themselves. By the time they realize it, they’re in their late 20s, and they think, ‘Well, this is not right.’

The following teen violence awareness poster, by Gina Proietto, was the winner of a 2011 competition put on by Laurel House, a comprehensive domestic violence agency based in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, USA.  The competition was open to all Montgomery County

SWOVA Has A New Website by Lynda Laushway






The new SWOVA website is up and running at, so check it out.  It is more interactive than ever with a slide show of photos, and videos of youth in action, educating their peers to prevent violence.  There is a ton of information on SWOVA’s programs and recent activities.  Please check it out and let us know what you think.  Many thanks to Factotum Design for their wonderful creation!