It’s Respect Week! There are many ways to participate in Teen DV Month this week! Start the week by wearing orange on Tuesday February 10th but don’t just wear orange, talk with people about why it is important to support healthy adolescent relationships. Post a picture of orange day and use the hash tag: #CAturnsorange.
You can also participate in the thunderclap from Break the Cycle on Feb. 13. A thunderclap is one message that will be sent out among all the participants’ social media at the designated time. It is a “flash mob-style” way to communicate on an issue. This is a great way to help amplify the message about Teen DV Month.
How do we incorporate “respect” into our prevention work? Many organization build prevention programs that incorporate youth leadership as integral in the development and implementation of the programs. There are many great examples of youth leadership within domestic violence organizations, which include Peace Over Violence and the Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian, and Gay Survivors of Abuse. Utilizing youth leaders offers many benefits in prevention work. There are benefits to the youth leaders, increased knowledge and skills, and benefits to the program, increased prevention capacity and powerful solutions that will resonate with the target audience. An additional benefit of youth leadership in our prevention work is that it is the embodiment of respect. When youth voices are not just included but central to the development and implementation of youth programs, organizations can demonstrate respect for the experiences of young people and programs will address the true experiences of young people not just the adult perceptions of those experiences. One the most significant benefits of integrating youth leaders into our work is that we are developing new leaders for the movement to end intimate partner violence. Strong movements need a diversity of voices and sustainable leadership.
Many programs in California have strong, well-developed youth leadership or youth advisory groups while some programs have not had the opportunity to involve youth leaders in their work. One of the first steps may be having a conversation with young people about the movement to end intimate partner violence. The Teen DV Month campaign from the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Our Gender Revolution, includes Our Gender Revolution Conversation Guide. From the guide:
“The purpose of this conversation is to connect and mobilize teens in creating compassionate communities where violence is no longer a common occurrence. Young people are the present and the future of our communities. Their attitudes and behaviors will shape future generations. Many youth are passionate about making the world a better place.”
Another great resource to start thinking about youth leaders or to share the amazing work your organization is already doing is the #Youthleaders Twitter Chat facilitated by VAWnet. The #Youthleaders TwitterChat is on February 10th at 4:30pm Pacific Time. The Northwest Network is also hosting a Twitter Chat on February 23rd from 3pm-4:30pm, you can learn more about their Twitter Chat on their Facebook page. Youth leadership provides a wealth of opportunities for new learning and unexplored possibilities (for organizations). I am excited to learn more about the youth leadership happening throughout California, please consider participating in the Twitter chats happening throughout the month.