Imagine a week without violence. That's the intent behind a worldwide campaign that Tulsa Public Schools are participating in this week, to make people think and act to make every week a week without violence. Tulsa is one of six area school districts involved in the YWCA's Week of Violence effort.
The Council of PTA and the district kicked off the week with a forum on violence in teen relationships. Local experts talked with students about how to recognize dating violence and prevent it. They say teens brought up in violent homes often see it as normal. They say it's important to stress that healthy relationships involve respect.
"If you're doing something to your friend or your partner you wouldn't want done to you, then don't do it,â€ said Tulsa police sergeant Pat Calhoun. â€œItâ€™s the golden rule. Respect that other person.â€
Students watched role playing on a teen sexual encounter, then voted whether they considered the incident rape. The majority said yes. One student says there's more violence in schools than people think.
"Especially in music, there are songs about rape and violence including shooting people,â€ said student Adam Thomas. â€œMusic and television all play a big role in my opinion.â€
Tulsa's Week Without Violence observance included a noon rally Monday on Bartlett Square. Several schools presented pledges of non-violence from more than 50,000 area students. A Sapulpa senior who's a peer mediator at her school challenged others to be culturally sensitive, non-judgmental and tolerant. Olivia White also said the most damaging violence can be verbal. "I really think the most hurtful times in our lives are caused by words that people say,â€ she said. â€œAnd if someone were to become very aware of what they were saying, and if they were to think about what they said before they say it, I think it would make a lot of difference," White explained.
The YWCA Week Without Violence was launched in 1995 and has now spread to all 50 states and more than 30 countries. You can call any Tulsa YWCA for more information about the week's events.