Youth Violence, Safety and Well-Being

Youth Violence, Safety and Well-Being

Jason Russell
on Jul 27, 2012

July 31-August 2, community leaders will come together with young people to participate in a three day online discussion focused on finding innovative solutions. Jason Russell of the Civic Commons will moderate, and everyone in the community is invited to offer their questions, concerns and comments, and to rate the contributions of special guests and other community members. Don’t forget to introduce yourself with your first post! If you are participating but feel you need to protect your identity due to the nature of the topic you may use a pseudonym name when you register. We only ask that you state that you are doing so in your introduction.

Participants (23) See All

What do you think?

Anonymous
on 2014-12-21T01:49:33+00:00
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Recent Activity

Ruby Varghese
on Aug 10, 2012
"Selfishness is increasing too much.Whenever I enter into a conversation,it is me or my family..."
Adriennie Hatten, Ph.D
on Aug 03, 2012
"When we at SOCF want to spread the word to students and parents we work with our community..."
Open Doors Academy
on Aug 03, 2012
"Great Comment Josh!  I love your reference to John Locke!  You hit the nail on the head when you..."
Open Doors Academy
on Aug 03, 2012
"Evelyn, drop me an email at agrassi@opendoorsacademy.org and I will hook you up!  Also, I have a..."
Rachel Woods
on Aug 02, 2012
"Hello, my name is Rachel Woods and I am a rising senior at The Whitney M. Young Gifted and..."
Antwone Clemons
on Aug 02, 2012
"I think the explorers program for one is good because it helps you see those in authority in..."
Nancy Reeves
on Aug 02, 2012
"It isn't much help in the summer - but are there supportive teachers?  When I taught there (23..."
Jason Russell
on Aug 02, 2012
"Angel, I very much like this approach. Was the Peace Makers group something started by faculty or..."
Jason Russell
on Aug 02, 2012
"Elizabeth, thank you for providing a link for Positive Behavior Support. I think AnnMarie would..."
Jason Russell
on Aug 02, 2012
"Patrick as a youth advocate in the Umoja program, do you guess have any strategy for spreading..."
Brian Siggers
on Aug 02, 2012
"Hello, my name is Brian Siggers and I am a graduate of Shaker Heights High School, and currently..."
Angel Thornton
on Aug 02, 2012
"By the way I am a Senior at Garrett Morgan School Of Science in Cleveland Ohio.  "
Patrick Payne
on Aug 02, 2012
"My name is Patrick Payne, currently a senior at East Tech High School. Also an active youth..."
Angel Thornton
on Aug 02, 2012
"Hi Im Angel and I agree with Micheal that if we ALL work in collabortion to prevent violence it..."
Josh Abraham
on Aug 02, 2012
"Hi, my name is Josh and I am a senior in High School. I feel that the default reaction is..."
Jason Russell
on Aug 02, 2012
"Quincy, what type of resources are you referring to? Also as Dr. Hatten and Michael Walker have..."
Jason Russell
on Aug 02, 2012
"J White, How can we change expectations of adults? It seems they have given up, but like so many..."
Jason Russell
on Aug 02, 2012
"Evelyn, Thank you for sharing, very good insight on the predicament of video games. I am guilty..."
j  white
on Aug 02, 2012
"hello my name is jwhite i am a senior at shaw high school and in the city i live in there is alot..."
Quincy Smith
on Aug 02, 2012
"Hi , what type of programs would you like to implemnt to help the youth become young respectable..."
Quincy Smith
on Aug 02, 2012
"Hello everyone ! My name is Quincy Smith I'm at senior at John Hay High School. I'm responding to..."
Evelyn Ting
on Aug 02, 2012
"Thank you very much!  I would love to speak with Professor Adams."
Evelyn Ting
on Aug 02, 2012
"I would suggest opening minds to indirect ways of dealing with youth violence.  As a violin..."
Open Doors Academy
on Aug 02, 2012
"100% Agreed!  "
Open Doors Academy
on Aug 02, 2012
"Jason, I think you raise a good question.  I firmly believe it is a multi-faceted approach that..."
Patrick Kanary
on Aug 02, 2012
"Hello all...I am Patrick Kanary at the Center for Innovative Practices at CWRU. My center helps..."
Elizabeth Anderson
on Aug 02, 2012
"Hello!  I am posting in response to Jason's question concerning the programs that exist for our..."
Open Doors Academy
on Aug 02, 2012
"Evelyn,    Your analysis of gaming and it's effect on our brain is insightful and well..."
Antwone Clemons
on Aug 01, 2012
"Hi my name Antwone Clemons, I'm 15 years old male, African American. I live in the Mt. Pleasnt..."
Michael Walker
on Aug 01, 2012
"Dr. Hatten comments are so important we must address in a universal manner an array of needs. We..."
Patrick Payne
on Aug 02, 2012 - 1:31 pm

My name is Patrick Payne, currently a senior at East Tech High School. Also an active youth advocate through the Umoja Youth program. There are programs out to help the kids.There is just not enough advertisement in the schools. So the kids are unaware of the opportunities out there. If we focus more on the positive in our cities instead of negative, we can set a greater example for our youth.

 

Responses(3)

Jason Russell
on Aug 02, 2012

Patrick as a youth advocate in the Umoja program, do you guess have any strategy for spreading the word within the schools? What has been the success rate?

 
Rachel Woods
on Aug 02, 2012

Hello, my name is Rachel Woods and I am a rising senior at The Whitney M. Young Gifted and Talented Leadership Academy. Agreeing with Patrick P., there are many programs that are sort of hidden if you are not a part of them yourself. It seems that programs are definitely around but how can others know about them if they are basically secluded from the ones who need them most. At the same time, the programs should not necessarily be shown off as if they are the best of the best because there is no competition when it comes to helping someone when they are in need, especially when it comes to the youth. Although many programs are school-based, many youth are not attending school so how will they know of any opportunities if they are not around to have a chance at them?

 
Adriennie Hatten, Ph.D
on Aug 03, 2012

When we at SOCF want to spread the word to students and parents we work with our community partners because this is where we have had the most success getting the word out.  Oftentimes parents are also connected in some way to their community and often times community partners have proven effective strategies to getting the word out.  Most importantly they usually have the relationships, which is the key to effective engagement. Word of mouth is still an effective tool when there are contact people, phone numbers, etc. available for people to follow up and get accurate information. 

 
Expand This Thread
Patrick Kanary
on Aug 02, 2012 - 10:29 am

Hello all...I am Patrick Kanary at the Center for Innovative Practices at CWRU. My center helps promote the use of effective programs for youth and their families who have challenging behavioral health issues.  we work with community agencies to implement these programs and we participate in dialogues at the state, local and national level on the issues identified in this discussion.

 

I am so glad to 'hear' the voices of the young people participating in this forum...it is really gratifying to hear of your nvolvement and commitment to making our communities safe and healthy places to be.

One 'theme' that seems to be emerging from this discussion is the need for a '360' view.  i agree with Michael's comment about competion, it needs to be about complementing and coordinatng and collaborating...there are precious few resources to go around so we need to maximize those and that comes with ongoing dialogues and emerging shared visions of goals.

I have gained insight from the comments i am reading and again, i particularly thank the young people who are not only weighing in but also taking an active roles...thank you!

 

 
Antwone Clemons
on Aug 01, 2012 - 10:47 pm

Hi my name Antwone Clemons, I'm 15 years old male, African American. I live in the Mt. Pleasnt area and I work for the Patnership for a Safer Cleveland, I'm a change Agent Fellow, a Teen Advocate, a Community Builder, and a K-9 Police Officer in training with the CMHA Police Explorers Program. In my community we have alot of teen violence and gang related activity. I would like to help young people find other outlets and ways to express themselves in positive ways. I believe that all young people deserve a better neighborhood to grow up in with  positive adults surrounding them to help them to grow into respectable young adults.   

 

Responses(5)

Quincy Smith
on Aug 02, 2012

Hi , what type of programs would you like to implemnt to help the youth become young respectable adults?

 
Antwone Clemons
on Aug 02, 2012

I think the explorers program for one is good because it helps you see those in authority in different aspects.  Also something where parents and children could learn conflict resolutions together.

 
j  white
on Aug 02, 2012

hello my name is jwhite i am a senior at shaw high school and in the city i live in there is alot of teen violence because the adults are always expecting teens to be troubled kids so they tend not to help them??

 
Jason Russell
on Aug 02, 2012

J White, How can we change expectations of adults? It seems they have given up, but like so many people have said in this forum, there is a need for outlets. People in general don't turn to violence because its fun, but rather there are few other options. Violence appears on the surface to be the only way to satisfy our needs. As pointed out by AnnMarie of Open Doors Academy.

 
Nancy Reeves
on Aug 02, 2012

It isn't much help in the summer - but are there supportive teachers?  When I taught there (23 years ago), my perception was that there were many supportive teachers.  I taught computer programming most of the 11 yers I taught there.  My fellow programming teacher and I often stayed late.  Officially it was so students who needed extra time on the computers could have it, but unofficially it was a place kids could hang out before or after school that was safe.I know Shaw has changed a lot since I was there (the last report I had was 5-10 years ago), and it sounded pretty bleak.   I hope there are still small pockets where you can find some adults who hope for the best, rather than expect the worst.

 
Expand This Thread
Randy Campbell
on Aug 01, 2012 - 10:25 pm

hi my name is randy and i am a youth and i think people should have these youth movements very often because this type of violence and saftey issues go on daily

 
Jason Russell
on Aug 01, 2012 - 10:19 am

There is an interesting theme emerging so far. It seems that a lot of the issues we are seeing at an older age are actually beginning at a much earlier age (elementary school). These acts seem isolated but as Dr. Hatten mentioned they could be emblematic of larger issues that could be occuring in the home.So my question to students, teachers and educational experts, what programs exist in our schools, particularly, elementary schools that can help identify and perhaps help calm behavioral patterns that have the potential to become violent outbursts in the future?

 

Responses(11)

Yailee Roman
on Aug 01, 2012

Hello my name is Yailee Roman 20yr old; I'm a 4 ½yr Mycom ulumni. I currently work at the Partnership for a Safer Cleveland as a Youth Facilitator and I must say it has been a life changing experience. I’ve always been surrounded by violence in my community and for so long I have told myself to JUST DEAL WITH IT. But now that I’m older and have had the opportunity to grow as human being and also see my loved one pass away due to gun violence, it kind of helped me figure out my purpose in life. Now check this out……Here I am Going to work every day helping young people gain knowledge about their community as well as help them understand the importance in becoming and young leader but then I go home and try to relax after a long day and I find myself going outside to a battle grounds where kids as young as 13 are running around with bats, gun, and metal object anxiously waiting for war, harassing anyone that comes there way. Now what exactly am I supposed to do when my sibling are caught in between?? No one really knows how many thoughts are running thru my mind at this exact second…YES I care about my community and YES I’m another individual yelling STOP THE VIOLENCE everyday but hey I also love my family and will not allow anyone to harm them. At this point I too am being put in another difficult situation……

 
Linda Springer
on Aug 01, 2012

Yailee, Thanks for joining this conversation and for working to find better ways to solve problems. It must seem overwhelming sometimes. What kinds of things do you do as a Youth Facilitator?

 
Michael Walker
on Aug 01, 2012

You are the change you want the world to be. Thank you for your efforts to enlighten others. Best

 
Adriennie Hatten, Ph.D
on Aug 01, 2012

I think we need to look at this from a strength based approach, as well.  Let's just not focus on kids who exhibit behavioral problems in elementary school because there are 'good' kids who are victims who do not act out in ways that interrupt teachers in the classroom. I think we need to focus on creating an environment where all children can feel comfortable to raise concerns with adults they come into contact with.  I also think mental health counseling is only a partial solution some youth also just need outlets like recreation to release stress and all youth need to be taught coping skills. Some youth hate programs so interventions need to be couched in everyday activities where youth do not feel singled out.  There our times when programs and pull outs are necessary but not always.  We should be sure to deliver our services and supports in a way that the youth find valuable and non-intrusive.

 
Michael Walker
on Aug 01, 2012

Dr. Hatten comments are so important we must address in a universal manner an array of needs. We must be comprehensive and collborative in our efforts. WE need mentors, counseling, coaching, jobs, vocational and academic opportunities for our youth. WE adults and young people need to identify our talents and then support those with other skills and talents in providing vaulable services to others. So often programs compete with each other about their approach as being best or better as stated earlier no one program, one person or one approach will meet the needs to address the root causes of violence in its many forms.

 
Open Doors Academy
on Aug 02, 2012

100% Agreed!  

 
Elizabeth Anderson
on Aug 02, 2012

Hello!  I am posting in response to Jason's question concerning the programs that exist for our schools.

About me...I am currently finishing my Ph.D. at Kent State University with a focus on teaching students with emotional and behavioral disorders.  My teaching experiences have primarily focused on working with these students as they exhibit aggressive, inappropriate, off-task, and disruptive behaviors, as well as antisocial and symptoms of depression in the classroom.

 

From what I have seen...elementary schools are struggling to determine the best approach to implement that would serve as an early deterrent to severe problematic behaviors.  There are many strategies that are used with students individually, but in terms of school-wide approaches, I have seen many schools turning to Positive Behavior Support (PBS).  PBS focuses primarily on prevention of inappropriate behavior and a school-wide culture of positive behavior (as it is implemented with all students).  This is one of the few school-wide programs that parents have told me that they like.  More info at:  www.pbis.org.

 

Does anyone know of schools that are succeeding with PBS or are using other school-wide behavior programs?

 
Jason Russell
on Aug 02, 2012

Elizabeth, thank you for providing a link for Positive Behavior Support. I think AnnMarie would be a good person to respond to your question about successful programs. Perhaps she can share some details of her work at Open Doors Academy in terms of positive support.

 
Quincy Smith
on Aug 02, 2012

Hello everyone ! My name is Quincy Smith I'm at senior at John Hay High School. I'm responding to the question that Jason asked . I feel that the problem is that there isn't any problems that are for the students to help them . Espeically within urban schools they don't have the resources to provdie a safe place for the students to go and get help. So the first step would be to gain resources for  students.

 
Jason Russell
on Aug 02, 2012

Quincy, what type of resources are you referring to? Also as Dr. Hatten and Michael Walker have elluded to, they don't have to all come from the school. In fact it should be a community effort with resources coming from a variety of sources. With that in mind, what resources would help?

 
Brian Siggers
on Aug 02, 2012

Hello, my name is Brian Siggers and I am a graduate of Shaker Heights High School, and currently a sophomore at Ohio University.

 

I agree that the best way to combat this issue is intervention at the younger levels so the problem doesn't escalate as they grow older. I believe that the best way to go about it, is to provide counseling and mentor programs. The students need someone to talk to, someone they can explain their problems to, and learn to alternatives to solving problems. If the students feel comfortable with that counselor, then they may look up to them as a role model, mentor, and would model after their behavior. With this, they would be cognizant of non-violent methods to approach their problems.

 
Expand This Thread
Michael Walker
on Aug 01, 2012 - 1:44 am

Hello All, I am currntly in Chicago, IL examining several approaches and programs being implemented to address violence. The problem of violence, especially violence related to youth will require alll of us to work in collaboration. No one program or approach will solve violence but their are seversl that can have impact at reducing various violent acts. I will attempt to particpate more later today or on Thursday. Peace be with all.

 

Responses(5)

Adriennie Hatten, Ph.D
on Aug 01, 2012

When Michael says collaboration by all of us will neccessary- just who is the us?  Often times plans and strategies are made in isolation.  Just recently we have had folks from multiple sectors in the room, including youth to begin to talk about the issues of violence and public health through the City Council's Forum, an effort which I applaud.  People do not live in a vacuum and most things do not happen in isolation.  I think we need to find ways to be more flexible with funding, open to new and different ideas, and truly listen to voices that have not always been welcome at the table in order to truly collaborate AND find solutions to this societal ill that is manifested in violence towards and by our youth.  Any thoughts?

 
Evelyn Ting
on Aug 02, 2012

I would suggest opening minds to indirect ways of dealing with youth violence.  As a violin teacher for El Sistema, I see the impact that this program has had on my students.  The students learn important values, such as responsibility, civility, and collaboration by learning an instrument and playing in an orchestra, under the guidance of several teachers.  A wonderful 12-minute video about El Sistema is included below. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4011959n

 Also, the website for the program in Cleveland that I work for.

I visited a similar program in Cleveland this week, called Math Corps.  Here, the teachers try to instill similar principles by making math learning fun in an all-day summer camp.

 
Angel Thornton
on Aug 02, 2012

Hi Im Angel and I agree with Micheal that if we ALL work in collabortion to prevent violence it would be a better attempt at reducing violence. In my school We have a Peace Maker group of students and teachers that you could talk to if you feel like starting violence or preventing it. Also parents talk to ther children about the consequences they can face and get them into programs to keep their minds and bodys going. The saying "It takes a vilage to raise a child" was not a lie, everyone (organazations, teachers, parents, and other young individuals) nedd to come together as one to get the job of reducing violence in order.

 
Angel Thornton
on Aug 02, 2012

By the way I am a Senior at Garrett Morgan School Of Science in Cleveland Ohio.

 

 
Jason Russell
on Aug 02, 2012

Angel, I very much like this approach. Was the Peace Makers group something started by faculty or students? How large is the group? What sort of the success stories of the group?

 
Expand This Thread
Worldstock Entertainment
on Jul 31, 2012 - 5:23 pm

Hello , My name is Wayne "Woody" Mesker & I am the C.E.O. of Cleveland - based Worldstock Entertainment as well asd a concerned citizen , parent & grandparent of a grandson in elementary school in Parma ,Oh. & a grandaughter in high-school in Cape Coral , Fla.

 

 

 

I woke up to the tragic news about the shootings at Chardon High School that Monday morning !

My initial response:

Worldstock Entertainment (my business) is prepared to put together a "Reach Our Children" awareness / fund - raiser to create/support Prevention " Counseling" & Outreach programs to avert future tragedies & to provide Counseling/support to victims & survivors of such senseless violence. Someone needs to take a stand !

My concerns are very serious, real & personal . I have a 9 yr. old grandson that doesn't know how to appropriately express or channel his anger ! He's got more than a few friends in school just as screwed up & these are 3rd - 6th graders from Parma .

 

That same afternoon he came home from school "hating" his substitute teacher & later when I took him to the playground , a couple of kids were messing with motorists pretending they had a "wire" stretched across the road . Two days later he drew a picture of a boy in his class with a pencil through his neck , because the boy was flirting with a girl he liked ! If we don't "Reach Our Children" now , who knows where they'll end up ?

Here's my idea on meeting to discuss development of the "One Heartbeat" Prevention Counseling program I believe is needed on a statewide level starting in our elementary schools that might eventually be a nationwide initiative spearheaded by Ohio :

It will take a joint effort of concerned & committed professionals from the community, government , media , educational system , mental health & social sevices & spiritual communities !

This is obviously a serious issue at a "National" level !! I recently had the opportunity to make a connection with the Executive Director of the Ohio Education Association . We could use an awareness / prevention program to be implemented statewide starting in our elementary schools & involving families . Children "Live what they learn" ! The term One Heartbeat was mentioned more than once in articles in the Plain Dealer about the Chardon tragedy.

Sounds like a great name for such an initiative . Governor Kasich was in Chardon to speak to the community , maybe we can meet to find & fund a solution so he doesn't have to do a repeat of his speech in another Ohio town .

I've reached out to Senator Joe Schiavoni who is instrumental in Anti-bullying legislation , had an initial meeting with Representative Nick Celebrezze , Senator Cafaro & will contact Larry Wicks at the OEA .

Hoping someone will reach out to Gov. Kasich on my behalf.

Well I got as far as the initial meeting with Representative Celebrezze , who promised to contact Sen. Cafaro & Sen. Schavoni & get back to me ! I'm still waiting !!!

 

Responses(3)

Jason Russell
on Aug 01, 2012

Thank you for your comments Wayne. I think you hit the nail on head. It also goes back to what Annemarie was saying about socialization. Why is the default reaction a violent one? How have we failed our children by not teaching them what socially and morally acceptable reactions are? Conversely, where are they learning these behaviors?

 
Josh Abraham
on Aug 02, 2012

Hi, my name is Josh and I am a senior in High School. I feel that the default reaction is typically a violent one because like John Locke had said human nature is selfish and evil. However, if approached in the correct manner we can accomodate one another's needs to bring peace to our society. We need to forget our selfish desires to assist those who really need it to achieve the ultimate goal of a utopian society. Children typically learn from their surroundings and environment. If placed in a hostile environment they will display hostile behavior. By placing children in positive environments from the start is a stepping stone to significantly reduce youth violence.

 
Open Doors Academy
on Aug 03, 2012

Great Comment Josh!  I love your reference to John Locke!  You hit the nail on the head when you mention one's environment and surroundings... we are truly a result of our culture, and I don't mean race or background, but rather our surroundings and our daily interactions with the world.  So I am curious... in your school and community, what have you seen work? 

 

 
Expand This Thread
Jeffrey Van Brown
on Jul 31, 2012 - 5:11 pm

I am a subsitute teacher with the Akron Public Schools, and,sadly, I see ths tendacy soo young!!!  When I see little kids ready to fist-fight in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades, sometimes I fear that when they get older they are ready to shoot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Responses(1)

Jason Russell
on Aug 01, 2012

Jeff, Are there any programs or services for these students? Guidance counselors, perhaps even peer mediation? How can we teach them another option to settle our differences besides violence?

 
Expand This Thread
Linda Springer
on Jul 31, 2012 - 11:13 am

Hello. I'm Linda Springer, Executive Director of Social Venture Partners in Cleveland. We like to find ideas that are working to solve community problems, and this conversation is a good way to do that. 

I read in the PD yesterday that there is a high level of violence at our lakefront parks. I was at Edgewater Park on the beach Saturday with family and found it to be lovely and friendly. Has anyone experienced anything else in the parks?

 

Responses(2)

Adriennie Hatten, Ph.D
on Jul 31, 2012

I have not experienced any violence in the park but I believe the media overemphasizes some things to keep people fearful of each other.  People who receive services from some well intended providers often complain that programming is built around stereotypes and not aligned with the strengths of their culture or community and thus they end up feeling victimized by the services and do not return.  In serving youth and families it is important to use culturally relevant approaches and build authentic relationships with people which in turn should determine what is provided.  Participants in the Education Strategy Team in the Central Neighborhood have been building their capacity to offer culturally programming to middle grade youth in the community for 2 years and they are really building the capacity of their entire organizations- and-building trust with the youth.  I wonder what strategies other youth serving organizations use to effectively address the needs of youth particularly those who my be  victims of violence?

 
Ruby Varghese
on Aug 10, 2012

Selfishness is increasing too much.Whenever I enter into a conversation,it is me or my family that comes for conversation and how we can get the maximum goodness with least contribution.As we become more self centred,our children also follow this self destructive attitude.When their comforts get reduced,they become angry and they hit the other person,whom they perceive as the offender.Develop programme that will help childrento think of others, more than their selfish ends.Enroll children to share their things with the  underprivileged and less fortunate.When we develop this attitude, kindness and compassion will comeback to society and hatred and violence become less in our future generation.Let us start the idea of sharing from our own home.

 
Expand This Thread
Jason Russell
on Jul 31, 2012 - 8:57 am

Good morning, My name is Jason Russell, I will be moderating our forum for the next few days. I am currently a Project Director for the Civic Commons and have been for nearly 2 years. (Time really does fly). I have a masters degree in Urban Planning from the Levin College at Cleveland State University, so I come from the mindset of improving a neighborhoods and the built environment as a way to solve our social issues. With that out of the way,To begin our forum today, I would like to take a step back and first identify what we mean by Youth Violence, Safety, and Well-being. Sure we may all have some preconceived notions of what that means, but as a group lets try and come to a consensus on what we are really talking about here, before moving forward to discuss successes and potential solutions. So what are the types of violence is typically geared towards our youth? Are there any new emerging trends that we should be aware of? (e.g. cyber bullying)How safe are our schools? Do children feel safe there? Where is youth violence prevalent (e.g. neighborhoods, time of day, etc)? Feel free to propose your own questions, let’s learn from each other. Don’t forget to introduce yourself with your first post! If you are participating but feel you need to protect your identity due to the nature of the topic you may use a pseudonym name when you register. We only ask that you state that you are doing so in your introduction.

 

 

Responses(14)

Adriennie Hatten, Ph.D
on Jul 31, 2012

Good morning.  My name is Dr. Adriennie Hatten. My background is in non profit management, social services and education.  I earned my doctorate from CSU in Urban Education in 2011.  My concentrations were Leadership and Lifelong Learning and Education Policy.  I have worked in Cuyahoga County for over 20 years.  It is a joy to participate in this Forum, to hear and understand what others are thinking as we move towards solutions to some of our socieities most pressing ills- violence and victimization.

Speaking of victmization many of our youth are victims of child abuse or neglect, from relatives, strangers or providers.  Unfortunately many have never received the proper interventions to help them heal and some are still being perpetrated against while they are menacing to others- and still the help does not come.  The public outcry comes.  The expectations for them and the criticisms when they do not measure up come- but where is the shoulder to cry on and the words to lift up ones's spirit.  Oh, I forgot to mention- I started my career at DCFS where I spent 7 eyeopening years  having my heart strings pulled by the suffering teens, who had endured the abuse and neglect the longest.

As we address the issues and define terms it is important to begin with a presumption that all children are a blessing and it is our society's obligation to provide for the next generation- not some of them, but all of them.  We have to identify all of the perpetrators, gaps in our services and systems, myths and downright biases that exist, which impede our ability to protect all of our youth from adults, their peers, and most importantly, themselves.

I share some words from Paul Hill Jr. that I just picked up from a post on FB-

Our challenge as underdeveloped human beings is how do we become fully human capable of loving self and others and receiving love" - Paul Hill Jr.

 

 

 
Linda Springer
on Jul 31, 2012

Yes, your comments reinforce the idea that hurt people, hurt people. How do we break that cycle? Are there examples organizations or initiatives you know of that are trying to do that?

 
Gabriella Celeste
on Jul 31, 2012

There are certainly programs and efforts underway in our community, such as the Children Who Witness Violence program at Mental Health Services Inc., that address the trauma children and young people are exposed to in an effort to help them heal and break the potential cycle of harm. It seems the county's recent launching of the "Defending Childhood" initiative however offers a promising collective vison for our community to address childhood trauma and violence in a more cohesive and coordinated way. For more information, see their website at: http://ja.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/DefendingChildhoodInitiative-092011.aspx

 

 
Gabriella Celeste
on Jul 31, 2012

Hi, I'm Gabriella Celeste the Director of Child Policy at the Schubert Center for Child Studies at CWRU. I think part of the challenge of "youth violence" is that our public child serving "systems", especially the criminal justice system, are challenged to find ways to truly support and guide young people in trouble. For instance, a recent shooting accident in Clintonville, Ohio between two good friends at a sleepover left one of the friends dead and the other charged with reckless homicide, despite the victim's mother's desire not to criminalize the incident. Part of the problem is we look to our systems for individual "accountabilty" but who is holding the system accountbale as a means for goood social practice?

 
Jason Russell
on Jul 31, 2012

Gabriella,

Thank you for your resources. I will add them to our list on the landing page.

 
Open Doors Academy
on Jul 31, 2012

 

Hi My name is Annemarie Grassi.  I am the founding director and CEO of Open Doors Academy.  I have 10 years of experience in nonprofit management, child and adolescent psych and education.  I am currently wrapping up my PhD in Urban Education in Learning and Development at CSU.  

So I actually wrote out an entire response to Jason's questions, and then somehow or other deleted it, so my first response at 11pm, will be a bit shorter... 

First, I strongly agree with Adrienne that we often fail to recognize the violence that occurs in the home and how this then leads to youth becoming perpetrators.  Not only is this relevant in terms of abuse, but also in terms of general rearing and how our youth are taught to continuously fight for themselves, how adults interact with each other, or even how they interact with their kids.  Last summer, I had a parent who I heard yelling at her child, throwing the F-Bomb around left and right.  It was of no surprise to me that a week later, I watched that same student engaging with a peer, throwing rocks at them and calling them a Mother F***.  So my question to the group is how do we begin to reshape the cultural norms for socialization and how we treat one another?  

Also, a short comment on violence... a large number of studies have pointed to the correlation of violence in the media and youth desensitization to violence in real life.  Bullying has occured since the beginning of time, and is often a response to either a youth asserting their dominance or seeking power in a relationship.  However, the face of bullying changed drastically over the last 20 years.  Today, bullying is increasingly violent both physically and emotionally.  Have our youth become so desensitized to violence that they must up the anti in order to feel dominant amongst their peers.  Outside of media, what has attributed to these changes?   

Annemarie

 
Jason Russell
on Aug 01, 2012

How are we even teaching socialization these days? I would argue we learn most of it through our parents and close family, but also as you said it is through the media that we consume. You noted an observation of a parent acting inappropiately towards their child and then the child subsequently acting out. How can we reverse this trend? Do we start at home or do we try to implement socialization training into our school programs?

Sadly, I think the media's influence has continued to grow and not just TV media. The music and video game industries have also contributed to desensitivity to violence. Couple that with a lack of role models in real life and we have a big problem.

 
Evelyn Ting
on Aug 01, 2012

My name is Evelyn Ting and I am an intern at Civic Commons.  I am a student at Shaker Heights High School, and currently writing my senior paper on how settlement reform workers tried to solve the problem of youth violence 100 years ago.  

To respond to Jason's inquiry, I do believe video games and the media play a role.  As a gamer myself, I realize that killing is often trivialized to the point where it is second nature.  Video games are addicting, thrilling, and often used as a destresser.  Unfortunately, taking out soldier after soldier teaches you to remove their humanity, and act without stopping to think.  The worst games are pure shooting.  The best involve strategy and a comprehensive storyline, using armies as tools to achieve a means.  I recently read a New York Times article that analyzed the behaviors of mass shooters.  One of the similarities they found was that all the shooters spent many hours gaming each day.  However, many people game and very few turn out to be mass shooters.

 

I am friends with a boy who lives in West Cleveland.  Many of his friends are in gangs.  He told me that a lot of them join because it gives them a family.  They don't have three regular meals a day with their family.  They don't have the support at home, so they seek it on the streets.  With nothing else to do, gang life is exciting, dangerous, and physically stimulating

 
Open Doors Academy
on Aug 02, 2012

Evelyn, 

 

Your analysis of gaming and it's effect on our brain is insightful and well thought out.  Kudos to you for your senior project.  Has anyone encouraged you to speak with Professor David Adams at CSU?  He has a great interest in youth development and education amongst early settlers.  If you would are interested I am happy to make an introduction for you.  He might have some interesting insight for you paper.  

Regarding your point on the boy in West Cleveland... as educators we often fail to realize that Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is critical in moving our society forward.  If our basic needs are not met as humans we will fight to find a way to meet those needs before we address anything else, regardless of the unhealthy decisions that may follow.  We are biologically driven to focus on food, shelter, and personal safety, followed by psychological comfort, including feeling like we belong.  I would be interested to hear Mike Walker weigh in on this one!

Keep up your great work!

 

Annemarie

 

 
Evelyn Ting
on Aug 02, 2012

Thank you very much!  I would love to speak with Professor Adams.

 
Open Doors Academy
on Aug 03, 2012

Evelyn, drop me an email at agrassi@opendoorsacademy.org and I will hook you up!  Also, I have a book and paper I wrote for his class that I can share with you too that may be of help:)  

 

 
Jason Russell
on Aug 02, 2012

Evelyn, Thank you for sharing, very good insight on the predicament of video games. I am guilty of playing such games as a stress reliever.

 
Open Doors Academy
on Aug 02, 2012

Jason, I think you raise a good question.  I firmly believe it is a multi-faceted approach that must occur across school, home, and community.  The age-old concept that it takes a village to raise a child is more prevalent and need now more than ever before.  We need to be reaching out to and providing more support to our families in terms of how their actions influence their childrens and provide them with tools that help strengthen a child, rather than tear them down.  We need to carry this same practice throughout our schools and our community programs.  There is a critical need to reintroduce civility and character development back into our "system"... over the years it has been lost and is only further desicated through media's portrayal of how we should treat one another and the need to constantly be on the defense, rather than move forward.  A quick example of the importance of civility... each year ODA takes 40 high school youth to Harlan, Kentucky (in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains).  Race relations are a very tense issue in the community and many children are taught at a young age to fear and hate the African American race.  While down there this summer our youth were participating in our annual Walmart Scavengerhunt, when a group of 5 of our youth started heading down an aisle and a young white male (probably 11 years old) started heading down from the opposite end.  Suddenly he looked up and saw the group.  Stopped suddenly, put his hands up in the air and proceeded to walk backwards with fear on his face.  Later that evening when we were discussing the situation, I asked our students how they felt.  A few said saddened, one said shocked, and another said mad.  I then asked them how they responded in the moment.  Several responded, I was mad, but I didn't want to further spread the hate, so I just smiled and said hello.  We have to begin reshaping the mindset of what leads us to be so angry and hateful at times.  We have to begin shaping the world for our youth in a manner that encourages civility and understanding over judgment and hate. If we don't begin to see our world as an interwoven system, it will be impossible to create such a change. 

Annemarie

 
Nancy Reeves
on Aug 01, 2012

I'm Nancy Reeves, and I hang around the Civic Commons in my spare time.  As relevant to this conversation, I taught high school (math, physics, and computer science) at Shaw High School for 11 years, and subbed in Southern Summit County schools for most of a year after that.  I have a 22 year old daughter, and was active as a parent in the Manchester schools throughout her time there.  If some of my personal experiences with violence, safety, and well being as a youth become relevant to the conversation I'll share them later.

I am struck by how ambitious this conversation is, and am struggling to find a useful way to dig in, since this conversation could easily be a dozen or more conversations.When I was teaching (23 years ago), the big violence was so prevalent it drowned out the more insidious - but equally damaging - smaller violence. Fights were a near daily occurrence, as was the sound of one or more of the principals wielding a paddle on those who were engaged in the fights.  Several times a year students would disappear from my classes, and then reappear, going to or from juvenile detention.  The recipients of violence, some big - some small - would often recycle it against someone they perceived as a weaker target - a teacher who survived the concentration camps was tormented with swastikas scrawled across papers turned in to her, students perceived to be weaker were bullied and female students were occasionally sexually assaulted, and the barrage of confrontational verbal encounters was endless.

A particular interest of mine more recently is violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth and children in LGBT families.  There is certainly a lot of big violence directed at members of this community.  It sucks up more emotional space than it otherwise might because the violence tends to be extreme in its intensity, but there is also a lot of insidious violence which passes with as little notice as the less tangible daily violence of living in poverty did in Shaw High School.  Even more than the threat of physical violence, the daily violence of being rendered invisible and explicitly, or subtly, told that you (or your family) are bad contributes to a suicide and attempted suicide rate among LGBT youth of 30-40%.If you have not experienced being an invisible other, it is an enlightening experiment to take a few days and listen with LGBT ears - silently pay careful attention to every message you hear and its tone - from the forms you have to modify in order to reflect who you are (gender, marital status, or who your parents are), to the commonly used put downs which only "work" if being LGBT is inherently bad (accusing politicians we dislike of being lesbian, gay, or transgender; describing unpopular things as "so gay"), more express name calling, twitter memes which describe what parents would do to their unborn child if s/he turns out to be gay, to the much more express sentiments like those of Fred Phelps.  You may only notice those toward the end of my list when you start, but with careful attention you can sensitize yourself to other, much more subtle and frequent, messages.Imagine living with these messages every day during the years you are developing your sense of well being and of who you are, with many of the messages coming from family members or role models in your life (teachers, coaches, religious leaders) Once you sensitize yourself to the constant negative background noise of our lives (I am a lesbian mom), you might try speaking up as small step toward making the world a less insidiously violent place for LGBT youth (or youth in LGBT families).But that is just one tiny corner of this question.  LGBT youth are not the only invisible others who bear the emotional scars of being assumed not to be present when our discussions condemn (expressly or implicitly) a whole host of other factors which may be present in their own or their families lives (mental illness, being on welfare, being in jail, alcohol dependence - just to name a few).And further - as I started out - these more insidious manifestations of violence are often completely overshadowed by the much more urgent real physical violence experienced by far too many youth.

I wonder if there might be a useful way to organize this conversation.  Dealing with the two kinds of violence I have mentioned are very different challenges (and I have only named two of many more).  I'm not sure how useful a general mish-mash of conversation is to either identify or move toward solutions of a problem of this magnitude, which is really many different - potentially related - problems.

 

 
Expand This Thread
Jason Russell
on Jul 27, 2012 - 2:34 pm

Welcome to  an online forum on Youth Violence, Safety and Well-Being, co-hosted with Social Venture Partners. We're glad you joined us. If this is your first time visiting the Civic Commons, you deserve an extra special welcome. If you have any questions or need assistance feel free to email at jasonrussell@theciviccommons.com.

Enough with the formalities.

Our three-day forum gets underway Tuesday, July 31st. The forum has been designed to bring community advocates, young people, thought leaders, and organizers together to better understand the reality young people face today, identify programs that are changing the game, and seek opportunities to further promote youth safety. Because after all, we are all advocates for happy and safe childhoods for all. We have invited several youth groups, youth program officers and education professionals to participate in order to provide diverse perspectives to this complex issue.Special Guests include:

  •     Blaine Griffin, Executive Director, Community Relations Board, City of Cleveland   
  •     Dr. Adriennie Hatten, Ph.D., Program Officer, Sisters of Charity Foundation   
  •     DJ Doc, Instructor, Progressive Arts Alliance   
  •     Santina Protopapa, Executive Director, Progressive Arts Alliance   
  •     Michael L. Walker, Executive Director, Partnership for a Safer Cleveland
  •     Patrick Kanary, Director, Center of Innovative Practices, Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education, CWRU   
  •     AnnMarie Grassi, Executive Director, Open Doors Academy   
  •     Daniel Gray Kontar, Writer

As we begin the forum, I would ask everyone to introduce themselves with their first comment. This allows everyone to understand your background so they can gain a greater understanding of your perspective.

So how do you get started?

Well you can start by reading a few comments, rating those that you like, and if you're ready, jump in with your own thoughts. It's just that simple.

So go ahead jump in the pool, climb in or just get in one foot at a time, however you feel comfortable.