The head of a Saskatoon youth program says teens are a valuable resource when it comes to stopping youth violence.
The Executive Director of the Restorative Action Program (RAP), Winston Blake, says teenagers are generally the best-informed people in a school, especially in the era of social media. He says teens can often prevent problems before they start.
"The last people to ever know there's a problem are the adults in the community," Blake said. "That's why I think it's very, very important that we teach people that they have a responsibility and a duty to come forward."
RAP Saskatoon, or Restorative Action Program, was started in 2002 as a way to stop bullying, intimidation and violence at Mount Royal Collegiate. Since then, the program has spread to seven schools across the city.
Each school has a designated RAP worker who works with teens to find non-violent ways to end conflict.
However, Blake says the group needs input from students for the system to work.
"Instead of saying, 'I'm feeling like a rat or I shouldn't be saying this,' kids should feel like they have a responsibility to come and get the help they need from a professional."
Blake says the program has been a major success in the schools that use the system.
"We've had so many situations in our schools where young people have felt the need to come forward to a RAP worker, and walk into the office and say, 'You know what? It's been talked about all day, there's going to be a fight after school, and I don't want to see a fight happen,' " he said. "Because of that sense of responsibility, RAP workers can come forward and have a mediation and conduct an intervention."