Be More than a Bystander
Prince George, BC – The Healing through Learning Conference in Prince George , which has gathered together front line responders, victim services, social workers, counsellors and court services, has taken some tips on how to be more than bystander and to prevent violence against women and girls.
(at right, JR LaRose addresses conference )
B.C. Lions J.R. La Rose (retired) shared his life story. His mother was Cree and a victim of the Residential School system where she was psychologically and sexually abused. His mother turned to drugs and alcohol to “numb the pain” and became ” a full blown drug addict”.
LaRose himself would become a victim of sexual abuse. “I became a very angry young man, I would unleash my aggression on the playground.” He was directed by a school principal to channel his aggression in sport, perhaps football “I said, you mean to tell me, I can run full speed at somebody, try to take their head off and won’t end up in your office? And he said yes, so I was like ‘where do I sign up?” He says being on the team was the first time he felt a family atmosphere. “I know it sounds so cliché when people say sports saved their lives, but football literally saved my life, football gave me hope, gave me something to be passionate about.”
He says when the BC Lions were approached to be part of the Be More than a Bystander program, he knew he had to be involved “I knew there were kids who had gone through what I went through, if I could raise some hope, I knew this was a program I needed to be a part of.” He says the program has helped him become a better man, a better father, a better husband and allows him to be a voice for those who don’t speak up.
He presented a number of scenarios, each depicting a situation in which a women is vulnerable and could possibly fall victim to the actions of another. “A lot of times people don’t want to get involved because they are afraid for their own safety” said La Rose.
La Rose called on the delegates to the three day conference to offer their suggestions on how to protect the vulnerable women depicted in the scenarios. The suggestions included physically placing yourself between the vulnerable and the threat, taking a photo with your cell phone, asking the threat to leave, all simple solutions.
“It’s not a super hero approach to making change” says LaRose , “As a father, it’s my job to teach my two young boys that it’s not ok to continue to objectify women.” He says the Be More than A Bystander program is shared with young men, and looks at some of the influences in the lives of youth, including the music the young men listen too, which all too often objectifies women. He says the youth look up to the football players, “And they want to be like us, so once you make it cool to stand up for the right thing, that’s when you make a change.”