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Anna Maria conference delves into violence in relationships; Talks focus on when bystanders should intervene.

Byline: Jean Laquidara Hill

PAXTON - An obviously intoxicated high school senior boy and an equally drunken sophomore girl are headed upstairs at a house party.

The sophomore is not someone the popular senior would usually bother with. And, she is having trouble climbing the stairs.

You're just standing there, beer in hand, happy to be on the inside - for once. But you know the scene about to unfold upstairs is iffy, at best. The senior has a reputation of being boastful, tough, a man's man. Could this be one of those date rape things parents and girls worry about?

What do you do? If you say anything, you may never be welcomed at another party - or even find a place to sit in the school cafeteria.

And so you end up doing nothing, not because you don't care, but because you don't know what to do and the situation unfolded too quickly for you to figure it out. What you needed, according to two men from Sport in Society at Northeastern University in Boston, was a playbook.

The two men, Jarrod J. Chin and Antonio Arrendel, were among speakers at a conference at Anna Maria College Thursday exploring solutions to young adult relationship violence. The conference, for social workers and other professionals, included an interactive role-playing session by Sports in Society Mentors in Violence Prevention to help professionals learn to teach young people strategies for preventing date rape and other violence.

The conference also included local speakers from Daybreak Services and the Rape Crisis Center of Worcester. Anna Maria President Jack P. Calareso, who welcomed attendees, said the school hosted the conference as part of its commitment to society.

While much of the discussion centered around male violence against women, the broader topics included same-gender couple violence and possessiveness, jealousy, alienation of friends and warning signs of violent relationships.

Mr. Chin, senior manager at Sports in Society, described the social pressure men feel when it comes to standing up to other men, even close friends. The risk of ridicule and being ostracized is real, he said, but so is the risk to individuals engaging in risky or violent behavior unchecked.

Using the example of the party, he and Mr. Arrendel, Sports in Society manager, exposed the insecurities and downright fear that hold back bystanders from intervening.

Both former athletes, Mr. Chin and Mr. Arrendel suggested people develop playbooks, like those used in sports practices, on how to act in a host of situations. They said bystanders should not intervene in a manner that would put them or others at physical risk, but rather in a way that redirects those already at risk.

In the case of the party scenario, for example, a bystander could speak up and ask the popular guy: "Is that something you really want to do?"

Or the bystander could find a girl the sophomore knows and ask that girl to call the one at risk outside.

The possible plays would depend on each individual's comfort level and the situation, the men said. The point is to be ready.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Conference news
Date:Apr 6, 2008
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