by Casey Keene, Director of Programs and Prevention for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
Young people have the power to change our world. They can; they will; they do. Youth activism has propelled social justice movements throughout history, and today we are seeing youth taking on more issues than ever, employing a variety of creative strategies to accomplish real change.
In her TEDx talk, Natalie Warne reminds us that nobody is too young to change the world:
This February, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) is putting a spotlight on youth activism as essential to an effective movement to end gender-based violence. During Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month and beyond, intentional efforts to embrace intergenerational approaches to our work will help us to truly create social change.
The State of Youth Activism
In 2013, the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FYCO) released their National Field Scan on the state of youth organizing, which reveals that the field of youth organizing “reached a level of maturity and power not previously seen in its campaign work” (Braxton, Buford, and Marasigan). The report shows that youth engaged in a wide variety of issues across movements, built and participated in local, statewide, and national intergenerational activist networks, and achieved great social justice victories.
To remain effective and build sustainable movements, youth organizers need broad support. We must invest dollars, time, and other resources to demonstrate our commitment to lifting up the good work of youth activists in
helping to shape our world. This involves meeting with youth where they are, listening to and incorporating their priorities into our goals, and valuing the perspective and experience they bring. It means compensating youth for their contributions, providing opportunities for mentoring and leadership, and taking a back seat when young people are at the wheel. Building an intergenerational movement that values the wisdom each of us brings will keep our movement… well, moving.
Models for Nurturing Youth Activism
Youth engagement in the movement to end gender-based violence comes in many forms. The PreventIPV project features a variety of models and strategies for developing youth leadership capacity and more effectively engaging in intergenerational activism in our movement including:
DoSomething.org is one of the largest global organizations supporting young people interested in social change efforts. Campaigns run the gamut from addressing transphobia to poverty, hunger, discrimination, the environment, and much more. Using the website, young activists are invited to pick a cause, sign up and send in pictures of themselves and their friends in action. Support is offered via an online tool kit with clear guidelines: Know It, Plan It, and Do It.
"The Freechild Project connects young people to create social change, particularly those who have historically been denied the right to participation." The website includes an impressive and inspiring database collection of youth-led activities occurring all over the world. The Freechild Project offers training, tools and technical assistance.
This publication provides support for adults working with young people and was designed to be a companion piece to Making the Peace, Days of Respect and Making Allies, Making Friends. It helps prepare adults for working with young people on addressing violence and oppression by providing a theoretical framework for violence prevention work along with exercises in being effective allies to youth.
“Teaching for Change provides teachers and parents with the tools to create schools where students learn to read, write and change the world.” Lessons draw from real world current events to assist teachers and students to develop critical thinking skills and approaches to leadership development and civic engagement.
Our Gender Revolution uses conversations to explore concepts of gender, inequality, and gender violence and to engage young people as social change agents. The Our Gender Revolution Conversation Guide was designed for activists, advocates, teachers, and community members working to end gender-based violence.
For more program models and resources, visit: http://www.preventipv.org/materials
This February, the NRCDV’s Domestic Violence Awareness Project, in partnership with PreventIPV, is pleased to offer a series of events and initiatives highlighting the power of youth activism including:
Crank Up Your Youth Community Action Teams: What’s working in Florida (Webinar)
Thursday, February 9th at 2:00 - 3:30pm Eastern / 1:00 - 2:30pm Central / 11:00 - 12:30pm Pacific
In addition, the NRCDV’s #TeenDVMonth #ThisIsDV campaign for Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month elevates the voices of young people who experience dating violence to help validate and name their experiences and raise awareness about the multifaceted nature of teen domestic violence. Follow the campaign on Facebook @NRCDV and share the campaign materials to help keep youth experiences at the center of our efforts.
For awareness tips and tools, explore the Domestic Violence Awareness Project website. To learn more about our national partners’ awareness observances and campaigns for #TeenDVMonth, visit Break the Cycle and Love Is Respect.
This October, the Domestic Violence Awareness Project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) is building upon conversations from 2015 around Awareness + Action = Social Change by offering key awareness activities and action steps for propelling us forward together.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was established by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations on June 15, 2006. WEAAD’s goal is to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.
This February, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence is committed to bringing the experiences and needs of teens from marginalized communities to the forefront and lifting up the amazing social justice work of youth leaders on the margins. These young people (namely, Native youth, immigrants and teens in communities of color, teens with disabilities, teens who identify as LGBTQ, teens who are low-income, runaway or homeless, among others) have unique experiences and their voices are critical to any meaningful conversation about preventing and responding to dating violence and to our overall goal of creating safe and healthy communities.
Domestic violence is preventable! This October, the Domestic Violence Awareness Project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence seeks to foster healthy families and communities by encouraging all of us to be part of the equation Awareness + Action = Social Change. This concept originated from the Transforming Communities: Technical Assistance, Training, and Resource Center (TC-TAT), providing leadership in prevention since 1997. Awareness + Action = Social Change is a framework that offers an opportunity to engage in critical conversations about what Action looks like.
During Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and throughout the year, it is important to highlight the role that youth leadership has played as an effective strategy in the prevention of teen dating abuse. Research shows that young people are disproportionately impacted by partner violence, with more than 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men experiencing some form of intimate partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age (CDC, 2011). When dealing with issues that directly affect their lives, it only makes sense that young people are meaningfully included in the planning and implementation of solutions. Teens, therefore, are best positioned to inform adults about the abuse that is impacting their lives and about effective strategies for promoting healthy relationships.
Between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away every year (Hammer, Finkelhor & Sedlak, 2002). This figure is staggering, yet the problem seems invisible. When a youth runs away, the impact is felt throughout the entire community. Statistics from The National Runaway Safeline show that the majority (29%) of callers identify family dynamics (divorce, remarriage, step/blended families, problems with family rules, discipline, or problems with siblings) and abuse as the reason for their call. Often kids run away from home to remove themselves from an immediately painful situation, but they have no plans or resources for what to do next.
During Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), several domestic violence shelter programs across the country will be observing National SAF-T Day, held annually on the first Saturday in October. This national event originated in 2010 as an opportunity for shelters to host a local dog walk or other community event to raise funds to start or sustain an on-site pet housing program and awareness regarding the co-occurrence between animal abuse and domestic violence.
Why is such an initiative so important? Advocates have learned that abusive partners often use the bond between victims and their companion animals to control, manipulate, and isolate their victims. Research indicates that 20 to 65% of domestic violence victims delay leaving a dangerous situation because they don’t know where to place or how to protect their pets. Some survivors return because they fear for the animals’ safety (NRCDV, 2014).
Every year, approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner. It is also known that 3 in 4 parents have never talked to their children about domestic violence. In light of these alarming facts, every year during the month of February advocates join efforts to raise awareness about dating violence, highlight promising practices, and encourage communities to get involved.
There are many resources available to provide information and support to victims and assist service providers and communities to decrease the prevalence of dating violence among young people. Anyone can make this happen by raising awareness about the issue, saying something about abuse when you see it and organizing your community to make a difference. Take Action!
Did you miss the Call of Unity? A recording of the session can be heard via this link with messages from national leaders, survivors, and advocates, and the dual-voice spoken word poems of ClimbingPoeTREE. The 4th Annual National Call of Unity Summary (Storify) includes links to the inspiring resources that were shared including poetry, prayer, stories, and words of gratitude and hope. View and download the Universal Prayer for use at your October 2013 DVAM Events and beyond!
Everyone knows and cares about an older person at some point in their lives; many of us throughout our entire lives—whether that person is a grandparent, an elderly parent, a mentor or coach, or an older person that has been influential to us in some way. Unfortunately, statistics show that one in ten people age 60 and older are victimized by elder abuse.
The Administration on Aging (AoA) defines elder abuse as any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Please read on (by clicking the link above) for ways to increase your awareness of this crime and determine ways you can be involved in preventing its occurrence.
Organized by the Office on Women’s Health, within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, held annually on March 10th, seeks to raise awareness of the disease’s impact on women and girls, and empower people with the knowledge and tools to make a difference. Listed after the jump are several ways you can be a part of these efforts in your community, state, across the nation, and around the world!
Everyone is impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault either directly or indirectly, but many do not realize it. Now is the time to change that. Our goal this year is to teach men, youth, women — everyone within our communities — how to recognize domestic violence and offer support to speak openly about it.
Every year, UN Women: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women join with Say NO-UNiTE to End Violence Against Women to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. 16 Days of Activism begins on November 25 and continues through December 10 to raise awareness of this devastating issue that knows no bounds and to inspire action to end this pervasive human rights violation across the globe. Their website contains a global policy agenda, activist stories and videos demonstrating the work of their grantees, and 16 Ways to Say NO to Violence Against Women Action Steps.