The Writing's on the Wall
One year ago the City of Melville launched a new pilot educational resource, The Writing's on the Wall. It was designed to help young people understand the underlying causes of unhealthy risk taking behaviours such as vandalism and drug taking amongst other crimes. The resource has just completed the pilot phase and extensive research was undertaken to determine its effectiveness. The results are very encouraging.
The Writing's on the Wall is a script that delves into the life of Jason Hepworth. Jason is a child from a dysfunctional family. His mother suffers from depression and alcoholism and his father is aggressive and violent. Jason's parents are in the process of splitting up. Forced to move from the family home to a more affordable neighbourhood, Jason finds himself disconnected from his established community at a time when everything seems to be falling apart. He meets some new kids that are into shoplifting and -tagging' and heads down that path with his new buddies. Criminal behaviour ensues with dire consequences.
Over 120 high school students, mostly 14 years old, took part in the study. They were interviewed prior to reading the script and afterwards. A number of interesting and important outcomes were observed.
After reading the resource students are more likely to perceive those who graffiti as experiencing emotional issues and/or problems at home. 49% held this belief before reading the script, 71% after.
After reading the script 80% of students felt more informed about effective coping strategies to use when feeling stressed or upset.
80% of students learnt more about where to seek help after reading the resource.
90% of the students that read the script indicated they would encourage a friend to seek help if they were finding it difficult to cope with problems at home or school.
90% of students that read the script felt more likely to help someone dealing with stress.
Students that participated in the trial, and had themselves graffitied in the past, demonstrated significantly greater understanding of the underlying issues after reading the script.
The script was developed by a professional scriptwriter, and workshopped with local high school students. The result is a very credible dialogue – the language is real; its how young people speak. 14 and 15 year olds can certainly relate to this resource.
City of Melville Project Officer Janet Armarego said that the resource empowers young people, as it evokes them to identify what underlying factors may lead to vandalism, and encourages them to think about help seeking behaviour.
'We are aware that young people often make poor choices that may have serious long term consequences when they are struggling with issues in their life, and not because they are -bad' people. We designed the resource to help young people better understand stressful situations and support them in seeking the right help," she said. 'We're very encouraged by the new research results. It seems the resource is very effective."
Prioritising projects that help young people deal with issues such as bullying, self-esteem, mental health, drugs and alcohol and sexual health and relationships, The Writing's on the Wall is part of the City of Melville's award winning Lifewise series of projects.
The Writing's on the Wall resource was made available free of charge to all secondary schools in the City of Melville area. Other schools around Australia are able to purchase the kit for $85.00 plus $20.00 postage from www.melvillecity.com.au/twotw. The kit includes 25 copies of the script, one copy of the teacher resource, and a CD containing the resources electronically. It is linked to the Australian Curriculum for both Health and Physical Education, and English for 14 and 15 year olds.
Funding for the project came from the City of Melville and the WA Police Graffiti Team through the State Graffiti Fund.
For further information please call 1300 635 845 or go to www.melvillecity.com.au/twotw.