Last month, Youth Education Specialist, Molly Pistrang, and Peers Against Violence Educators (PAVE) Peer Leaders, Mica Duce and Anna Kraffmiller, had the opportunity to do an interview with Burlington Cable Access Television for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. PAVE is a student club at Waltham High School whose members raise awareness of healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships; facilitate workshops and classes for their peers; lead school and community events; engage their school and local community in dialogue about topics such as relationships, social media, current issues, and gender roles; serve as spokespeople and models of healthy relationship behaviors and leadership.
In the interview, Mica and Anna, both seniors, shared about their motivation for doing peer to peer education as PAVE Peer Leaders. They explained the dynamics of teen dating violence and about different types of abuse. They expanded on warning signs of abusive relationships and barriers to leaving a relationship that may be unique to teens. They shared strategies around critically examining media and supporting someone in an abusive or unhealthy relationships. They also focused on what adults should know about supporting a young person in their lives.
Their answers highlighted the importance of youth not just being used for their opinions, but having a seat at the table- or interview. Their perspectives and examples illustrated the impact that teens leading conversations with their peers can have. As Mica said, “I’ve noticed [something] since joining PAVE and since one of my closest friends joined PAVE. I’m in show choir and show band… and I’ve noticed in show choir [that] they take pictures and they have fun and they post it on snapchat and stuff. I’ve noticed that a lot of them now, they’ll take a funny video and they’ll be laughing and say ‘hey guys, do I have your consent to post this?’ and it’s just spread around show choir and all the competitions now… not all of them but a fair amount of people, even if they’re not from our schools. I’m not sure if it’s entirely us… but the topic of consent has definitely gotten more into the conversation.”
When asked about the importance of having teen voice/ perspective so teens can talk to their peers and inform adults in the field, Anna responded that “if it’s an adult saying don’t do this, or this is how you should be… kids are not going to respond to that… obviously teenagers are going to rebel against what they’re told and they’re not going to necessarily listen to every adult, but if it’s their peers and they’re not being prescriptive about what exactly has to be done in every situation- If they’re opening a conversation or if they’re just modeling and not being ‘oh I’m better than you because of this and this,’ but just modeling what it could look like to be considerate and be informed about relationships- kids will listen to that. Kids will respond to that.”
If you’re interested in hearing more from these teens, check out the full interview here.