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Only 162 days before the start of DVAM 2019...

#TeenDVMonth 2017: The Power of Youth Activism

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.

 

“In 2014 we saw young people rising to challenge injustice in ways we could not have predicted. This included massive protests against police brutality in Ferguson, MO, New York, and beyond; continued pressure from undocumented young people for real immigration reform; a host of victories addressing racial disparities in school discipline; and young people leading the People’s Climate March in New York. It is essential that there are structures to support the ongoing engagement and the growing power of these young activists, and opportunities to bring them together to learn from each other and create shared strategy.” 

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

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

"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.

Helping Teens Stop Violence, Build Community and Stand For Justice

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

“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

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

 

Join us!

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
Register here

Our Gender Revolution: Youth Leaders in Action (Webinar)   
Thursday,  February 16th at 2:00 - 3:30pm Eastern / 1:00 - 2:30pm Central / 11:00 - 12:30pm Pacific
Register here

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.