Topic: Research

Pass It On: Boys – Survey Results & Evaluation

In the Fall of 2016, SWOVA’s Pass It On – Engaging Boys & Young Men Project set out to find out about the needs of boys and young men (cis- trans- & non-binary inclusive)  in the Salt Spring Island Community and ways to address these needs. Surveys and focus groups were engaged with boys and young men, young women, educators, parents and community members, and programs/activities offered to boys and young men. And the results?

Issues highlighted by the boys and young men are (in no particular order):

  • Schoolwork stress

  • Family & Relationships

  • Sleep

  • Peer pressure, criticism, judgement (and in extreme cases bullying)

  • Self Image

  • Mental Health

  • Drugs & Alcohol

  • Negative Expectations/Stereotypes

  • Intimate Partner Relationships

  • Understanding Girls/Young Women

  • Helping Friends While Taking Care of Oneself

As one would expect the issues are more or less heightened depending on the age and individual situation. There is a desire for sports, activities, or places to gather, the exact details of which vary from person to person, group to group. My sense is that places to connect and talk in some way is wanted by all but how it would ideally look varies greatly. There is a cautiousness by this group as a whole to engage in some of the deeper needed conversations.

Tarquin Bowers, evaluator for the project has written a personable, warm hearted, and well-written evaluation of their needs. I’d recommend diving into the full report. Make a coffee or tea, sit back, and enjoy your reading!

Intro Letter to PIO-Boys Evaluation Report Feb 2017

Pass It On Engaging Boys Young Men Project Evaluation Jan 2017

Universal Children’s Day – by Lynda Laushway

Bali, 2010

Bali, 2010

Universal Children’s Day is on November 20, 2013, a day to annually celebrate childhood worldwide. First proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954, it was established to encourage all countries to institute a day to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children and this year the focus is on ending violence. Nov 20th also marks the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). This is the most widely ratified Convention in the world, of which all but 3 nations have not ratified (US, Somalia, and South Sudan).

A new data report, produced by UNICEF partner Child Helpline International (CHI), shows that violence and abuse, neglect, depression, suicide, child trafficking and commercial exploitation are issues faced by millions of children on a daily basis.

Child Helpline International has analysed a decade of global data from over 126 million contacts made by children and young people with child helplines in 141 countries. This forms the basis of a global data publication and five regional data publications.

In The Voices of Children and Young People in Africa, data shows that over 18 million contacts were made with child helplines in Africa. This number likely underrepresents levels of violence as many children don’t have access to phones, and much violence occurs in the home and is not discussed outside.

The majority of these contacts related to abuse and violence (29%). Specifically, physical abuse is noted as the number one reason why children and young people contact child helplines. Among other alarming frightening issues is that children have had difficulties accessing healthcare and education services because they don’t have a birth certificate (almost 5,000 contacts in 2012). This continues to be a child protection concern around the globe, and is the focus of many child protection interventions. Data also shows a horrifying rise in contacts on themes concerning corporal punishment, child marriage and commercial or sexual exploitation.

Kosovo, 2000

Kosovo, 2000

In The Voices of Children in Europe, we see that over the past decade rapid advancement in technology has shrunk the world in terms of connectivity and access to information, opening up new avenues for children and young people to grow into productive citizens. It has also exposed them to new threats and dangers in the on-line environment. The European economic crisis has had a severe impact on their lives resulting in an increasing number of contacts on depression, fear, anxiety and suicidal tendencies. Disturbing issues such as child abandonment, calls for food and basic needs, financial assistance and commercial exploitation have emerged since 2007.

In The Voices of Children in the Americas and Caribbean, the highest numbers of contacts were about abuse and violence (13%), peer relationships (20%), family relations (15%), and psycho-social and mental issues (27%). Abuse and violence against children and young people has spiralled since the onset of the economic crisis. Family members are responsible for a substantial number of abuse and violence cases. Girls and boys report sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. Boys suffer from physical abuse, while girls report more on sexual abuse.

Schools should be an environment for learning, free from abuse and violence. For many children and young people in the Americas and Caribbean region this is not the case. Children and young people struggle with issues such as homework, the attitude of the teachers and increasingly bullying. Child helplines have received many contacts on violence and abuse perpetrated by teachers and bullying by peers. Children and young people are becoming increasingly distressed and some are contemplating suicide. Contacts on depression are growing rapidly. Self-harm has registered an increase as children and young people are trying to cope with distress and depression. Girls in the region are taking part in self-harm more than boys. The number of missing children is rising. More children and young people are asking for shelter.

Also in the Americas and Caribbean region substance abuse amongst young people has increased. Reports on denial of access to services, healthcare and education have increased. Child trafficking has significantly increased in the past 5 years. Commercial sexual exploitation is rising dramatically. Most contacts on sexual exploitation are made by girls. Increasing reports on cyber-bullying are emerging. Cyber-bullying extends the harm of bullying into children and young people’s private space.

Universal Children`s Day is a time for us to contemplate the state of the world for our children, celebrate them and consider what more we can do to make the world a safe place for all children.

It is also a time to value the role children play in addressing violence, and engaging them as active participants in creating sustainable solutions.

Despite an increase in laws and legislation, programs and services, and general awareness about how violence affects children, violence continues to pervade the lives of children and their communities. To address issues of violence requires a greater shift towards prevention and early intervention programs, and active engagement with children themselves to identify solutions.

 Lynda Laushway – Executive Director, SWOVA

(Photos by Lynda Laushway, and Megan Manning)


Ground Spark

Working in the classroom with Respectful Relationships (R+R) youth, we often find that media tools including YouTube videos, documentaries, and magazine articles assist us in our dialogues with youth. We encourage youth in their critical thinking about Media and its influence on our lives and try and present positive media that influences meaningful social change. San Francisco based Ground Spark, a producer and distributor of visionary films that address sexism, racism, and homophobia.  Ground Spark has an exciting library of captivating films that further engage island youth in meaningful conversations around violence, respectful relationships, school culture, and social norms.

“Let’s Get Real,” “Straight Laced,” and “Its Elementary” are films we use in R+R to encourage thoughtful dialogue. Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Debra Chasnoff, president and senior producer of Ground Spark,  is a nationally recognized champion of using film as an organizing tool for social justice campaigns.  She is a pioneering leader in the international movement, working to create safe and welcoming schools and communities.

It’s exciting to continue to see the work we do at SWOVA as part of a wider global social justice movement dedicated to health and safety for all people. Check out Ground Spark at

R+R Program evaluated in International Journal

We’re pretty proud of SWOVA’s R+R program and it turns out that we have reason to be.  Recently a review of the evaluation results for our program by Buote and Berglund, was published in the international Journal of Education, Citizenship and Social Justice.  The article points out how the program is helping promote healthy relationships, including the development of civic mindedness, social consciousness, and related social competence skills among students.

Most interestingly, the article speaks to the program changing the culture of a school.  That’s one of the things about the program that we’re most proud of.  This is not just one-off learning, but learning that gets at the heart of real change.   R+R’s ongoing four-year curriculum builds on the program’s foundational concepts each year, and has more of an impact on school culture than a single presentation or a one-year program.

What’s culture got to do with it?  We think it’s *the* thing.  While giving youth the skills to develop confidence, communication, and leadership is great, the real goal has to be to create an environment that nurtures youth.  According to the McCreary Centre Society, in their Picture of Health study, too many youth in BC do not feel safe at school all the time, in fact less than half.   That’s scary stuff.

The article on the evaluation of the R+R program concludes that

“Results of this evaluation reveal a need for schools to continue to place substantial efforts in the area of the promotion of healthy relationships thereby creating a future in which social justice prevails. The level of relational violence and oppression, as witnessed by the youth reports in this evaluation, is concerning.  We know from extant research that children and youth who do not feel safe at schools, often experience lower academic achievement and mental health challenges, such as anxiety, self-destructive behaviour, post-traumatic symptoms, aggression, depression and suicide attempts.

The current evaluation of R+R indicates strong results for a program that focuses on key skills and attitudes that lead to development of healthy relationships which in turn promotes a social justice orientation among youth.  These positive findings add to the evidence that such skills can be nurtured…and these benefits will be experienced by our society in the future, a future poised for a greater emphasis on social justice.”