Manassas Journal Messenger 03-30-01



crusade against violence


Tiffany Schwab



Violence sees no age.

Sometimes teenagers forget that, said Osbourn High School freshman Adrianna


Teens can be victims, but they can also take steps to prevent violence

in their homes and communities, said Mendez, a member of the Prince William

Youth Advisory Council.

As co-coordinator of Osbourn’s Turn Off the Violence campaign, Mendez

will ask classmates to realize they can make a difference when she asks

for their pledge next month.

The message is an important one, she said.

“It’s such a big deal because I don’t think people our age …

are aware of what’s going on out there with violence and drugs,” she


Mendez is hoping at least 800 of the school’s 1,730 students will sign

pledge cards promising to turn off the violence in their homes and throughout

their lives.

Mendez is not alone in the campaign.

Adults and students throughout Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas

Park will participate in events to raise awareness for April’s Turn Off

the Violence Month.

“Youth are concerned about youth violence,” said Susan Robinson,

director of the Prince William Office on Youth, which oversees the advisory


At Stonewall Jackson High School, students will participate in Turn

Off the Violence activities the week of their prom, said Jessica Lee, a

junior and co-coordinator of the school’s campaign.

Grades will compete against each other to see who can amass the most

pledges, Lee said. Poster and essay contests also are planned.

“It’s kind of a way to encourage people instead of resorting to

violence, to have a more positive way to resolve their conflicts,”

Lee said of the awareness campaign.

Local school divisions already have measures in place to prevent violence,

or to nip it in the bud.

Prince William County Schools has a tip line for students, staffers

or parents to anonymously report drugs, weapons or violence in the schools.

Callers record messages on the voice mail system, which is checked twice

a day.

The anonymous aspect of the tip line appeals to some students, said

Clarice Torian, director of student services for the county schools.

“A lot of times students are reluctant to approach an administrator

because they want to remain anonymous,” Torian said.

Although the school system receives only a dozen or so calls each year,

the tip line serves as another tool for violence prevention, said Donald

Mercer, director of risk management and security for the county schools.

Last year, the system received 13 calls, with six about drugs and several

others about violence and threats.

“They’re all followed up,” Mercer said. Although, “Some

of them are pretty ambiguous.”

If a caller is in an emergency situation, that person should immediately

call police, he said. If information left on the tip line is about something

criminal in nature, officials will notify police, he said.

The tip line phone number is (703) 791-2821 and is available in the

student handbook, the student code of behavior and throughout Prince William

County Schools.

· Contact Tiffany Schwab at [email protected]



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