SOME VOICES OF YOUTH. Teens: an attempt at `raising consciousness' [BY]Ellen Steese, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
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``Got to smarten her up,'' yells a guy from the left balcony, with a characteristic missing Boston r.Skip to next paragraph
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``Girls, does that smarten you up?'' asks Ms. Sousa.
``NOOOOOO!'' scream the girls.
REVIEWING the scene where the two girls are talking about one girl's black eye, Sousa asks the audience for a different way of dealing with the situation.
``Have your boyfriend beat him up,'' yells a girl.
``Besides having him beaten up,'' says Sousa patiently.
She points out that jealousy, possessiveness, and violent behavior are often seen as expressing love, but that that is false. She explains that after the boy hit the girl, they didn't feel closer. ``It didn't work,'' she comments.
One woman in the front row, a counselor perhaps, asks elegantly, ``What should a girl do if a boy says he'll kill himself if she leaves him?''
Mr. Aucoin remarks that this threat is ``incredible manipulation.''
One boy comes up to the front to give a more detailed opinion on this point. ``If the guy's gonna kill himself 'cause the girl leaves, I think he should kill the girl instead, 'cause she's leaving him,'' he says.
``If these boys were alone, I don't think they'd be saying the stuff they're saying,'' says a counselor in the front row.
``I know what it is to feel that you are being blamed for everything that any man ever did to any woman - that's a very uncomfortable position,'' says Aucoin.
AT the end, a group of counselors sitting in the front row introduce themselves and give information on how they can be reached if the kids need help with a problem with a boyfriend or girlfriend. There seems to be an impressive amount of help available, also a tremendous concern.
The school guidance counselor takes the opportunity to say gently, ``I hope some of the behavior I wasn't pleased with isn't a real reflection of the way you feel.''
``They're making the school look like a jerk,'' says a girl in the third row, with disgust.
After the program, people are disassembling lights and tidying up. Aucoin and Sousa stand in front to answer individual questions.
The boys' reactions to the program is pretty typical, apparently. ``They think that's what the girls want to hear,'' Sousa comments.
She says it's difficult for her to listen to comments like the one the boy made about killing the girl if she leaves him. ``When I hear that and I know the statistics ... I didn't know what to say.''
Aucoin points out the basic problem, which is the idea that boys are supposed to be in charge, while girls are supposed to be sweet and gentle.
He says that a lot of conflict is avoided because by and large people conform to these roles. ``A lot doesn't happen unless she challenges him,'' he says. ``If she does, he'll show his desire to be in control.''
These assemblies are intended to ``raise consciousness'' and bring up questions. They are followed up by individual workshops in the classroom.
In general, the boys don't admit to changing their views after the workshops, but the girls get the point, according to Aucoin.
He remarks that, if the girls stop putting up with abuse, the boys will have to change - or find themselves left out in the cold.
Last in a series of three.