Ending Violence Against Women and Teen Dating Violence: The Annual Forum for Advocates
On June 27th, 2011, people from throughout California gathered in Sacramento for the sixth-annual Ending Violence against Women and Teen Dating Violence: A Forum for Primary Prevention Advocates, presented by the Violence Prevention Unit of the California Department of Public Health’s Safe and Active Communities Branch. Nearly 200 people attended this year’s event, including more than 40 youth leaders from around the state. The three-day Forum offered an ideal setting for individuals dedicated to preventing relationship violence to meet and collaborate on prevention strategies.
The Violence Prevention Unit supports several statewide programs to prevent domestic violence, sexual violence and teen dating violence, with the ultimate goal of preventing first-time occurrences of violent or abusive behavior. Staff proposes that prevention can be accomplished by creating more positive social norms that support healthy relationships and promoting leadership opportunities for youth.
The first two days of the Forum featured a separate youth track (below, right) that highlighted workshops and sessions facilitated by and for teens. The ideas for the break-out sessions and workshops were inspired by teens focusing on what they wanted to learn about violence prevention. With help from Leading to Change, an organization from North Carolina, music, games and laughter filled the youth track room throughout the three-day event.
The third and final day of the Forum welcomed adults into the youth track to promote collaboration and intergenerational partnerships among participants of various ages. The day’s keynote speaker was Raquel Martinez, a youth leader from Girls Inc. of Alameda County.
Raquel shared results from a teen dating violence survey conducted by youth leaders in Alameda County. The findings included that 87 percent of teens are in relationships or have been in an intimate relationship; 76 percent said that physically hurting a dating partner is a serious problem for teens; and 48 percent reported having been in a violent relationship or knowing someone who has been.
The Forum brought to light the importance of adults and teens working together as allies in the fight against teen dating violence and violence against women. The youth advocates inspired the adults by sharing their experiences and beliefs of prevention of teen dating violence in their communities. The young people were asked about challenges they expected to face when moving forward to engage others in this work. Some mentioned the lack of adult allies and parental support. Others brought up the issue of lacking resources.
With these and other issues in mind, the Forum was very successful in helping to unite teens and adults with a common goal. The group was able to work together in identifying challenges and the solutions that will work best in their communities.