Engaging boys in conversations about masculinity and links with domestic violence (Session X)
In 2012 the Nova Scotia departments of Health and Education collaborated on a prototype grade nine health class for boys to normalize help-seeking behaviour. The pilot was a response to a challenge facing the provinces youth health centres. The centres are part of the health care system, and proven effective at improving young people’s health, but boys were not using their services. The interactive lessons were designed to engage students in conversations about a range of health issues and their connections with present day expectations around masculinity. Topics have included pornography, body image, consent, healthy relationships, alcohol and other drug misuse, sexuality and injury. Early evaluations reported shifting attitudes around help- seeking, and the success of the project has opened up an opportunity to expand the work to younger and older youth in 2019 with a focus on domestic violence. Inside the classes the boys find a safe space to express their thoughts and feelings and feel vulnerable but comfortable while talking about deeply personal issues that are impacting their health and the health of their peers. The model represents a culturally competent pedagogy that offers a more effective way to translate knowledge and alter attitudes. Now running in two dozen Nova Scotian schools the work has also spread to Saskatchewan where teachers and school-based service providers have experienced similar positive results. Participants in the workshop will learn more about the genesis of the work and how it has evolved, see demonstrations of the approach, hear about what trauma informed practice looks like in the classroom, as well as understand the challenges in creating a different but effective learning environment for young men. Engaging men and boys in conversations about domestic violence is vital, but few know what effective engagement looks like. This workshop will showcase a best-practice approach to working with teenage boys from diverse backgrounds.