Crime, anti-social behaviour and community safety are under the microscope at two Enniskillen schools, thanks to Housing Executive funding.
More than 450 Key Stage 3 students from Devenish College and St Fanchea’s College got together over the last year to take part in the Respect Programme.
Developed by the Children’s Safety Education Foundation (CSEF), the Respect Programme teaches teenagers about the consequences of anti-social behaviour and crime including hate crime on communities, as well as the health, safety and the wellbeing of young people.
The Housing Executive supports the project in different areas of Northern Ireland each year. In the last five years, 10 schools and hundreds of students have taken part.
Michael Fitzgerald, from CSEF, works alongside schools to roll out the programme.
“We are encouraging young people to challenge stereotypes, think about citizenship issues and also consider opposing viewpoints,” he explained.
“This helps them deal with problems they encounter in everyday life such as peer pressure, bullying and personal safety, lifeskills that can be difficult to convey through normal teaching channels.”
A total of £2,500 was provided from the Housing Executive’s Community Safety fund for new text books, E-books, worksheets and student surveys which had to be adapted during lockdown.
Jackie O’Kane, from the Community Safety Team, said: “We want to empower young people to make positive choices and play an active role in their community.
“It is the fifth year we’ve funded this community safety project, which uses real life situations to demonstrate how everyone in our society deserves to be, and should be, respected.
“This year, Devenish and St Fanchea’s Colleges, are helping their pupils get to grips with anti-social behaviour issues in a constructive way,” she added.
Berni McDermott, from Devenish College, said: “This project is a breath of fresh air in its content, simplicity and presentation. It targets issues directly related to young people and is presented in a way that engages and informs.”
Pauline Armitage, St Fanchea’s College, said: “The Respect programme resources provided me with a good basis for teaching Year 10 about smoking, alcohol, and drugs.
“The information in the Respect booklet is up to date, making it relevant for pupils. The ‘Did you know’ sections and real-life experiences provoked very important class discussions.
“It was evident that pupils were looking at this topic from different perspectives and viewpoints, they were asking questions and engaging in discussions on a topic that they might normally be reluctant to.
“My hope now is that they will go on to make responsible decisions for themselves because of this learning experience. I will use the Respect programme resources to supplement other topics going forward.”