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Survey to identify youth safety issues

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The Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition wants to measure how safe people feel our community is for youth, and it’s turning to the public for input.

The coalition’s Family and School Safety Committee is conducting a survey of what people perceive as safety issues or concerns for local youth.

Committee chair Erma Armit noted the survey would be conducted in three sections--grade seven and eight students, teachers, and the general public.

“It’s to form a base for the development of programs by whatever community group could use this information,” Armit explained, with funding for the project coming from the RRVSC and the Rainy River District Family Violence Network.

“We’ve been working on this for about two years,” she added.

As a parent, people often are concerned about the physical safety of their children, said Peggy Loyie, who also sits on the committee.

“But there’s a whole other element of safety, a personal safety,” she noted.

For example, Loyie said there could be a child who feels bullied, or has friends who are abusing alcohol. By making the survey anonymous, the committee is hoping to paint a picture of what the different groups feel the safety issues are.

Sharon Preston, president of the local Federation of Women’s Teachers’ Associations of Ontario who is working with the committee in an advisory capacity, noted any problems had to be identified before they could be addressed.

“But that’s pre-supposing that there is a problem,” she added.

And just because people may perceive there is a problem, Preston stressed it didn’t mean the problem was real.

“Unless they’re doing something negative, why is it a problem?” she reasoned, noting whether there was an actual problem would require further investigation.

But even perception of a problem would mean more public awareness or education was needed in those areas, Preston admitted.

The committee is hoping to have the raw data collected by May but Armit didn’t anticipate the final report would be presented to the public until this fall.

Once completed, the results will be presented to target groups and community partners. But in the long run, the committee is hoping this will be the groundwork research that would be useful for any group or individual looking to develop programs in the community.

A survey is included in today’s Times, and also will be available at the Lifestyles Expo this Saturday at the Fort Frances Curling Club.

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