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Showing posts from September, 2022

Keeping youth safe: Teen dating violence and the role of youth workers

By Sarah Odendahl In a few short days, October will be here. October brings notable holidays like Halloween and Indigenous People’s Day, and it is also National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, takes many forms. One of those forms is what’s known as dating violence. A 2019 CDC survey showed that 1 in 12 U.S. high school students who had dated in the previous 12 months had experienced physical and/or sexual dating violence. The CDC states that “teen dating violence profoundly impacts lifelong health, opportunity, and wellbeing.” Can youth workers have an impact on teen dating violence? Research suggests yes. A 2022 study that spanned 25 New England high schools showed that youth who underestimated school staff’s response to teen dating violence had less intention to personally intervene in situations of dating violence. The same group reported higher belief in rape myths and higher denial of responsibility for dating violen

Sports as a context for youth development

By Rebecca Meyer My family has participated in soccer for many years now, with three boys playing since the young age of five. My oldest, now 16, is on the high school soccer team roster. We haven’t missed a season. And it’s nearly a year-long sport between fall season, indoor winter league and the spring/summer club. For my oldest, soccer is etched as part of his identity, and how could it not be with so much time devoted to playing soccer? For my two younger boys, both 12, soccer is a part of their lives but less enwrapped in their personal identities.  As a parent and a youth development professional, it has been both fascinating to watch their personal development and challenging to navigate the competitiveness of organized sports and coaching dynamics. As you may already be familiar, youth sports can be a great context for positive youth development (PYD). But, sports can also be detrimental for youth if careful attention is not made by coaches and others responsible in shaping

Youth engagement through an equity lens

By Jessica Pierson Russo We often think of “engaged youth” as those who are learning and having fun. But meaningful program engagement is more than that. We can use an equity lens to discover how. When youth are truly engaged , they will see their unique cultural identity and experiences authentically reflected in the program, and then learning and having fun will happen naturally.  Here are three ways you can engage youth through an equity lens. Gather youth input Getting youth input can be tricky because they may not know exactly what they want, may not know how to explain what they want, may not understand why they feel the way they do, or some combination of all these things. Youth, after all, are often more used to being told what to do rather than being asked what they’d like. Youth in marginalized groups often feel further silenced. Thinking about their thoughts and feelings, as well as articulating an idea, is a skill we are all continually learning. Gathering and using youth