The message delivered was simple: violence against women is unacceptable and everyone has the power to do something to deter these tragic actions from reoccurring.
Both Reid and LaRose spoke to the middle school students about the importance of deterrence, support, and most importantly, making sure everyone is taking care of each other in order for everyone to live a safe life. The assembly was part of a B.C.-wide campaign, where various players of the B.C. Lions organization visited different schools around the province, delivering the important message that anyone has the power to combat violence against women.
Following the assembly, Reid said it’s a critical message he and his teammates are delivering, especially with the age of the audience.
“It’s an impressionable time for them where kids are becoming who they are going to be, and they have to learn it’s okay to stand up to what is wrong. It’s got to be more important for them to do what’s right, than to try to fit in.”
The B.C. Lions centre added that being an ambassador for such a strong message is a privilege, but adds the campaign isn’t just about preventing violence, but also to develop leaders within the community.
“It’s an honour, really. When you look at the world today, things are getting worse, particularly at the school age level, and our message, although it’s against violence against women, it’s more about creating leaders, and getting people to stand up for what’s wrong. We don’t have enough of that in today’s world and I think it's important to encourage them that it’s okay to stand up to what’s wrong.”
The two also discussed how doing the right thing could sometimes lead to negative consequences, using personal examples in the B.C. Lions locker room as examples. However, in his speech, Reid said that despite the difficulties that come with being a leader, everyone has the ability.
“Leadership takes smart decision making, accountability and courage. It isn’t always easy. The last one is a good one because it takes courage to be a good leader, because a lot of the time you have to stand up against something that goes against what everyone else is doing. And the neat thing about courage is that it’s not some special talent or skill you have to be born with. Each and every one of you out there has the ability to be courageous, it’s just not easy.”
The two also shared some statistics with the Bert Bowes students, such as that in B.C. there are 1,000 physical or sexual assaults against women every week, and one in three women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The two added that women under 25 experience the highest rate of violence within relationships, and that a study in London, Ontario found that students within grade 9 and 10 experienced the highest rate of relationship violence, both physically and verbally.
As Reid says, "be more than a bystander; break the silence against violence against women.”