July 15, 2020
For Year 7, Love Bites may be one of life’s most important lessons. The program focused on having and sustaining healthy relationships using social media – does it harm or help communication and relationships?
Last week, all Year 7 students spent the day actively listening and engaging in a suite of individual and group activities led by the Anglicare Shire Youth Worker, Mrs Debbie Palmes, the Biloela State High School Guidance Officer, Christine Taylor and the School Guidance Officer, Mrs Michelle Williams. Teachers were also on hand to help support and prompt students to challenge their thoughts and behaviours. The program was called ‘Love Bites Junior #hashtag friends’.
‘Love Bites Junior’ has programs for each year level. The Year 7 program unravelled numerous concepts, beliefs, and issues, and challenged how young people’s use of social media can impact on their relationships and wellbeing. This program is designed and run by the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) and as been applauded by teachers, police and community workers. In Australia, bullying and disrespect towards each other in relationships on social media has been in the headlines over the past few years, from harrowing inquiries into online bullying in various states and grave concerns about lack of respect in our communities. Many students are addicted to checking their social media accounts and engaging in appropriate responses, the result being disengagement from their family, friends and enthusiasm for learning at school.
But amid all the misery, this new program aimed to make students aware of how to protect themselves, to engage in respectful relationships online, to identify what their expectations are and recognise where their line is on displaying and sharing images on social media. Students worked through seven sessions: 1. Relationships and Social Media, 2. Helps or Harms, 3. Beliefs about Relationships, 4. Communication, 5. Power, 6. Managing Jealousy, 7. Sharing Images Online – What the Law Says.
‘Love Bites’ involves students watching films on stereotypes and diversity, brainstorming and defining respect, recognising respectful relationships, talking about the issues, and taking part in a number of exercises to define what’s acceptable and what’s not. Another session has them deciding where they stood (Agree, Not sure, or Disagree) on a number of stereotypes witnessed in the media, schools, families and communities.
The students ended the day by developing a piece of artwork about what they learnt. The images and messages can be both empowering and insightful as students reflect on an issue or concept that resonated with them.
One school reported that “this program has the capacity to get in early and help empower young people, support them and educate them about what’s OK and what’s not when sharing social images. You watch young people going through these programs and the light bulbs go on, they might understand that what’s happening in their own lives, at school, at home and in communities isn’t right, and are able to seek assistance. They have hope”.
The day was all about the young people’s views and ideas being challenged, and they go straight in with honesty and sincerity. The program has always been a success. They want to be good boyfriends and girlfriends, they want respectful relationships, and the program empowers and enables them to go out into their communities and become the next generation of leaders.
To find out more about the program go to: http://napcan.org.au/our-