November is Family Violence Prevention month in Alberta. The intention of the month is to raise awareness of the issue and to call to action all Albertans, as we all have a role to play in the prevention of violence. There is growing recognition that boys and men need to be included in primary prevention of intimate partner violence. In fact, one of the strategies in the Government of Alberta’s family violence prevention framework is to: “Develop, promote and support a comprehensive provincial strategy to engage men and boys in family violence prevention”. We are honoured to be a partner in this, and our award winning WiseGuyz program is supported by the Government of Alberta.
The WiseGuyz program has been identified as a promising practice program for the prevention of dating violence. WiseGuyz is a comprehensive healthy relationship program for young men between the ages of 13-17. WiseGuyz has been operating in the Calgary area since 2010 and is now in 9 Junior High Schools, 2 community settings and one high school. The WiseGuyz program consists of four core modules including healthy relationships and communication, sexual Health, gender and sexual Diversity and media literacy.
WiseGuyz disrupts the traditional masculinity scripts that the boys have inherited via social and cultural influences, such as schools, media, family, and peers. WiseGuyz encourages boys to be open, curious and not feel shame in asking questions about sex and sexual health. Ensuring boys are developing not only the knowledge about appropriate resources, but also the confidence to access them.
By engaging in the process of WiseGuyz, boys experience the very tenets of a healthy relationship through understanding and experiencing safety; trust; belonging; a reliable social network; non-judgmental inquiry and open dialogue. Through the program WiseGuyz participants can begin to identify when they or someone they know is in an unhealthy relationship, and they can recognize and respond to aggressive or violent behaviours in others. They become active bystanders in their schools, families and communities.
Through the research on the program we hear from schools that because of WiseGuyz their schools are safer, there is less homophobic and sexist language and less bullying overall. Family Violence Prevention month, may be just that, one month, but we know that our WiseGuyz participants after completing the program are aware, that every day, in every month they have a role to play in raising awareness and reducing the incidents of violence in relationships.
For more information about our WiseGuyz program please visit www.wiseguyz.ca.
For more information about Family Violence Prevention month please visit http://www.humanservices.alberta.ca/abuse-bullying/14839.html