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Calgary university students hope to make domestic violence program available nation-wide

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CALGARY (NEWS 1130) – A domestic violence program at a Calgary university could spread across the nation.

The Calgary Police Service says there’s been a 36 per cent increase over the five-year average with 2,800 cases reported since this September.

A program led by students at Mount Royal University is opening up a conversation about the problem, and they hope to roll out the ‘Stepping Up’ program in post-secondary institutions all across Canada.

Gaye Warthe, Chair Department of Child Studies and Social Work at MRU, says students get involved in the solution with a yearly prevention project presented to the community in April.

“Bystander interventions frequently come up; gender in media — how do we think about, what are our expectations for men and women and how they behave; beyond men and women in terms of gender identity; and relationships — how are health relationships viewed, and how do we know the difference between a healthy relationship, an unhealthy relationship, and an abusive relationship,” shares Warthe.

She says post-secondary students fall in the highest-risk age group and stepping up gives students the tools to help them and their fellow peers.

“They fall in the highest risk group to experience dating, domestic, and sexual violence and yet there are no resources or programs available. We were one of the first to look at this and look at projects across Canada to see what existed and we built our project off of a high school project,” explains Warthe.

“And Sexual violence isn’t the only kind of violence we see occurring on a post-secondary campus. We know that there are other forms of violence, and in fact, students are arriving on campus having experienced violence either in their homes or in their communities,” says Warthe, adding that impacts what colleges and universities address.

She adds work with local partners so students can understand what it happening in the city when it comes to domestic violence and possibly adopt their ideas into the community.