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article imageOp-Ed: Teens who speak out against violence unsung heroes

By KJ Mullins     Apr 10, 2011 in Crime
Toronto - When teens who live surrounded by street and domestic violence speak out they become unsung heroes for their communities. They can face threats and even death for having the courage to speak out.
The definition of the word hero is a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal. Standing up in the face of danger is a heroic act.
Andre Ducas had asked a group of young men to leave a Mississauga area community centre in June 2010. The men left only to return with guns. Adrian's death is not alone.
After the 2007 killing of innocent bystander Christopher Privett in Las Vegas community leaders rallied the community to stand up against violence. quoted teen Michelle Goldstein speaking out.
"If our friends are getting into trouble we want to tell them and straighten them out before they get into bad situations like that," said Michelle Goldstein.
In 2009 teen Justin Winemiller was beaten by a group of teens walking home in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cleveland St. Ignatius football team decided that they had to take a stand against the violence the teen had faced. First they raised money for Winemiller. Team members Christian Sanders, Kevin Johnson, Markus Primes, Ryan Gibbons and Robert Grebenc gave a presentation to Whitney Young High School in Cleveland on youth violence.
JJ Huddle reported:
“(Sanders) came to me and said the things that are happening to young people are just tragic and we need to do something to stop it,” said Tyrone White, a 14-year veteran of the Ignatius coaching staff. “I asked him if he meant it when he said that to me. He said he did and I asked him if he would be willing to roll up his sleeves and make a stand and he said he was.
“That is how it started. It was not my initiative. I have just supported them in something they are passionate about.”
The impact of the students Stand Against Violence is growing. In 2010 more than 1,400 young men had joined their movement against youth violence.
In Toronto high schools students are becoming peer educators to combat violence against LGBT youth.
“The idea is to teach students how to make creative media and facilitate workshops for other students on gender-based violence prevention,” says Vladimir Vallecilla, a gender-based violence prevention work for the school board. “An example would be taking images from current media, Disney, pop culture, then discussing and breaking down how gender has been socialized into students.”
Stop the Violence rally at Dundas Square in Toronto asked the question  who will fill these shoes ?
Stop the Violence rally at Dundas Square in Toronto asked the question 'who will fill these shoes'?
At the UMOVE, United Mothers Opposing Violence Everywhere march last October teens rallied along with adults speaking out against the violence that faces Toronto residents.
For some teens fighting back comes in the form of social media. On Facebook one young woman, Poonam J. is fighting back using her voice within her circle of friends.
Toronto's Leo Barbe was a victim of violence. At the age of 21 he was gunned down while on vacation in Montreal. He fought back, battling PTSD to make a difference. His Think Don't Shoot youth organization works to educate youth about the ripple effects of violence.
Toronto Police Constable Scott Mills spoke to me about the young heroes he sees every day. His work with social media in policing brings him into contact with youth on a daily basis. During several interviews for various articles Mills has expressed how proud he is of the youth that are making a difference in our community by speaking out against the acts of violence they see. He knows the personal risks that they face when they take a stand. He knows of the crime stories that never have to be reported because of teens who bravely called in to Crime Stoppers stopping violence dead in its tracks.
These young men and women are making a difference in their community. We don't often know their names. They are the kids that stop the bully from beating up another kid, the ones who call Crime Stoppers when they overhear another student talking about killing someone or bravely go to the police when they are a victim of crime. Their actions bring forth positive changes at times with personal risk. They are the heroes that line our communities.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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