Start Strong brings youth voices to prevent teen dating violence
At the Start Strong Annual Meeting in July 2010, the 11 sites funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Blue Shield of California met to learn from each other. Each site brought teen leaders who spent the meeting sharing with each other and developing a PSA, learning to tweet and writing OpEd pieces. This teen dating violence initiative is one of the most exciting new developments in teen dating violence prevention as each site has developed a campaign that integrates education for 11-14 year olds, the engagement of teen influencers (including parents and older teens), communications campaigns and policy development.
Each site has developed its own effort. Here are some examples: Peace Over Violence in Los Angeles holds its annual Denim Day; Start Strong Idaho has used the Twilight movies to anchor its prevention efforts; Start Strong Boston recently held a Break Up Summit ; Start Strong Rhode Island is developing a teen dating violence video game; Start Strong Bridgeport rated recent films and videos on how they address relationships, and Start Strong Oakland has “I Am Jane” campaign.
I left this meeting excited about the creativity of each of these sites to integrate youth leadership with education, marketing and policy. While these programs use either SAFE DATES or the 4th R educational curricula, what separates Start Strong prevention efforts from most other prevention efforts is the comprehensive mix of activities.
Teen dating violence and sexual violence prevention is more than changing people’s knowledge, it is about changing our culture. It is clearer to me more than ever that changing culture takes more than classroom presentations; it will also need to include poetry slams, youth-led gatherings and creative use of media to advance change.
Come back here for blogs with more details about these Start Strong programs.