By David Lee on August 2, 2010 · tagged as , , ,

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.

David Lee

More Posts by David Lee

David S. Lee, MPH, is the Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault where he provides training and technical assistance on prevention. David manages the national project PreventConnect, an online community of violence against women prevention practitioners, funders, researchers and activists. For over 27 years David has worked in efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth Darley August 20, 2010 at 4:48 pm

I needed some information on any ideas that you may have for doing and advertising a poetry slam for high school students. Thank you.


David Lee David Lee August 20, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Check out Start Strong Oakland — they organized poetry slams.


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