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Breaking the cycle early

IMPORTANT LESSON: Impact youth worker Amanda Scarborough says the domestic violence program, Love Bites, has been popular with schools.
IMPORTANT LESSON: Impact youth worker Amanda Scarborough says the domestic violence program, Love Bites, has been popular with schools. Scottie Simmonds BUNLOV

ONE in four young people have witnessed violence against their mother or stepmother.

That scary statistic means many children have no idea what a healthy relationship is and educational programs such as Love Bites can be the difference in breaking the cycle of domestic violence.

Impact Make Your Mark youth worker Amanda Scarborough was part of a small group of community members who fought to bring the Love Bites programs to Bundaberg.

"We've done Gin Gin, Isis and North High and we're scheduled to do Rosedale next year," Mrs Scarborough said.

"Love Bites is a domestic violence and sexual assault prevention program.

"It's all about teaching young people about healthy relationships and recognising an unhealthy relationship."

Mrs Scarborough hopes to see the program - made up of two interactive workshops on domestic and family violence and sexual assaults - implemented in all Bundaberg region schools, but this would require funding support.

She said many support services such as Phoenix House, Edon Place and UnitingCare Community reported spikes in the number of people seeking help following the Love Bites program in schools.

"We're getting a lot of feedback that people are accessing services more," she said.

"It is a really valuable program and there is a big need for that."

One educator who can vouch for the program is North Bundaberg High School's head of the student services department Gillian Colasimone who said she hoped to see the program return for a second year in 2013.

"We found it very useful and helpful," Mrs Colasimone said.

"We were impressed with the large number of people who facilitated the program and their experience.

"It is done in a very effective way by expert people."

Isis District High principal Allan Cook said the professional program was always welcome to return to his school.

"I think the messages in Love Bites are very important for young people," he said.

"The message should be mandatory, whether it be through Love Bites or another program."

Mr Cook said the students learnt a lot.

"The students were very happy and very positive about Love Bites," he said.

"I must compliment the people who did provide the program."

Love Bites

Love Bites is a school-based program aimed at children aged 14-16.

Gin Gin, Isis District and North Bundaberg high schools have already been involved.

Rosedale High will get involved next year.

Organisers hope to introduce the program to all Bundaberg region schools.

The program is a one-day workshop split into two sessions; one on domestic and family violence and another on sexual assault.

Topics:  domestic violence



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