Students Together Organizing Prevention, or STOP, will draw 3000 students from 37 school districts, along with administrators, school board members and social service agencies. Skits will be used to illustrate problems and stimulate discussion.
Richard Garland, an expert on youth violence with Allegheny County's Department of Human Services, is one participant who will present students with tools and tactics of peer-to-peer mentoring to deal with the problems they face, which include drugs and alcohol, intimidation, date rape, and a multitude of threats from the internet, like predators, ID thieves, and cyberbullies.
State Senator Jane Orie, convention host and co-founder of the group, says some students and their parents are unaware that the information provided on My Space and personal web pages can adversely affect students' employment and educational opportunities.
Orie says students face the same dangers, whether they're in urban, suburban or rural districts, and empowering them to solve problems is more realistic than relying on adults alone.