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Cedar City White Ribbon Week

CEDAR CITY -- Cedar Middle School will sponsor White Ribbon Week next week to increase awareness and encourage students to say no to pornography and violence against women, said Principal Conrad Aitken.

The little community of Cedar City is not immune to problems of this nature, he said.

CMS didn't have an official White Ribbon Week last year, although Aitken said the school did have some activities. The year before it had White Ribbon Week, and he decided to go back to it.

Ruby Jewks, PTA board member over education and family life and White Ribbon Week, said this will serve as a kick-off for the Utah PTA for next year. The organization plans to take White Ribbon Week statewide based on Cedar Middle School's activities.

Aitken said he believes there is a need for this based on what he's seen from the students. Although notes are banned at the school because they are a distraction and a medium for threats and inappropriate material, Aitken has a notebook full of confiscated notes that include sexual content and profanity.

The school is filled with 1,044 kids ages 12 to 14, Aitken said, and it breaks his heart to see that. He's not trying to create a problem where there isn't one, but it seems to be an issue that isn't going away.

Aitken will present some of the research he has found on the media's influence on the students during a meeting with parents Thursday night.

"My purpose is to help parents make a more informed decision," Aitken said. "It's no surprise a saturated diet of this stuff will lead to this behavior. I simply want kids to grow up, as best as I can, in a world free of this."

Aitken said he would like it if his students could focus on their problems as adolescents rather than try to contend with adult problems.

"If we can make a difference for some of the kids in our school, our efforts are well worth it," Aitken said. "If I sound like a crusader, I am, because I love the kids."

In the past, he said, parents have responded well to the evening meeting. He believes they are concerned and want to know what they can do about the problem.

The portrayal of sex and violence in the media is much more pervasive now, Aitken said. It used to be that young people had to dig to find that material, but now it is thrown at them.

Aitken said some of the kids he has to talk with concerning this issue are from intact homes and attend church on a regular basis.

"It just blows (parents) away," he said. "(I thought) we've got to do something about this."

Jewks said she will videotape and take notes on the week so PTA organizers can come up with a program for a white ribbon week at all Utah schools at the annual PTA convention in May. The Spectrum Newspaper, published Saturday, February 5, 2005

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