CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 6 . . . . November 12, 1999
Taking Charge. (Teens Against Violence Collection).
Claudette Jaiko (Director). Chantel Bowen (Producer). Ginny Stikeman and Josee Beaudet
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1996.
25 min 34 sec, VHS, $39.95.
Order Number 9196 020.
Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.
Review by Tom Knutson.
With its theme song declaring, "Enough is Enough," the message of Taking Charge is clear:
teens are speaking out against violence and harassment in their schools and are starting to do
something about it. Taking Charge looks at Toronto-area young adults who, through their own
initiative, have organized groups to address the problems of violence, sexism, homophobia and
racism in their schools. Students in grades 7 to 10 use role-playing and peer discussion sessions to
facilitate dialogue on these issues and to determine how they can work together to understand and
eliminate them. Taking Charge profiles some of these groups as well as several individuals who
contributed to their development.
While the approach of the video is effective (for the most part the camera is a 'fly on the wall'), it
also creates some challenges. The conversations flow easily between students as they express their
ideas and stories without the guidance of an adult leader. However, these discussions tend to
jump quickly from issue to issue in a disjointed way, and the overall arrangement of footage seems
rather haphazard. Given the size of some groups, the sound levels were obviously difficult to
establish, and a few speakers are almost inaudible.
Taking Charge is not so much a "how-to" video that suggests concrete ideas on how teens can
create "anti-violence collectives" in their schools. Instead, the experiences and personal accounts
expressed throughout the film give young adults the opportunity to develop a sense of
empowerment and confidence that will enable them to speak out against violence. With a cover
that includes a user's guide for teachers and facilitators, the video is ideally suited to the classroom
or any other setting that incorporates peer discussion. However, many teens 12 and up who view
Taking Charge on their own will still benefit from the powerful message that young people can
make a difference.
Tom Knutson, a Children's Librarian at Vancouver Public Library, is Vice-Chair of the Young
Adult and Children's Services Section (YAACS) of the British Columbia Library Association.
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