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Breaking the cycle of teenage violence

DINAH ARNDT | The Examiner | June 17, 2010, 1:45 p.m.

Some of Launceston's most troubled teens are being recruited for a pilot intervention program that targets young, aggressive boys.

Five of the city's high schools were asked to nominate students in danger of being expelled because of violent or aggressive behaviour.

Headspace Northern manager Marilyn Murray said the schools had welcomed the Mind Body program.

"Four out of five schools said: `When are you going to do one for our girls?' So, I think there's been an increase in violence among young women too," she said.

"This is about changing them, while engaging them. We can sit back and blame the media, or the schools, or the families, but if we don't support these young men or women to change their behaviour now it will affect their whole life."

Ten boys, aged 14 to 16, are in the first intake of the 14-week program. It will be run six times over the next three years using a $90,000 Tasmanian health and well- being grant.

Those taking part spend time with a psychologist, youth support worker and youth development officer.

Headspace youth development officer Nate Austen said the teenagers were regularly taken on outdoor adventures designed to encourage team-building, trust, self-esteem, communication and physical awareness.

"It's about being aware of how your body is reacting in certain situations and learning to control that, rather than allowing thoughts to take over and control everything."

Youth support worker Jasmin Wiltshire said even she had found the physical activities emotionally challenging.

"(The rope challenge) was quite demanding, physically demanding, and a lot of the guys were getting frustrated and angry, and when Nate broke it all down and we debriefed I could see why we were getting so angry."

Mr Austen said initial program results were encouraging, but stressed that participants had complex issues.

"You can't change everything. You can't fix everything. All you can do is give them tools and strategies to cope better," he said.

Courtesy of The Examiner

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