Tag Archives: #NeverAgain

Protecting Ourselves

Jackson Katz asks men what they do daily to prevent being raped.  He is often met with silence.  Eventually, one student might say: avoid going to prison. 

He then asks the women the same question.  Immediately hands pop up with responses:

  • Hold keys as a potential weapon;
  • Look in the back seat before getting in the car;
  • Carry a cell phone;
  • Don’t go walking/jogging at night;
  • Lock all the windows when I sleep;
  • Don’t take a ground floor apartment;
  • Own a big dog;
  • Carry mace or pepper spray or a gun;
  • Have a home alarm system;
  • Don’t drink too much, and don’t let my drink out of my sight;
  • Have a buddy system;

And so on and so on.

Teaching our children

These are the messages we pass along to our daughters, teaching them from an early age to be aware of their surroundings, avoid certain areas, walk with a partner and so on.  Universities and Colleges offer workshops for female students to help teach ways to avoid being a victim, including self-defence techniques.  One study determined that only 22 women would need to participate in a rape prevention program to prevent one additional rape from happening that year.

What about boys?

A lot of time, money and energy is spent on helping females to avoid becoming victims.  As a result, females are often the ones held responsible for their participation in sexual activity.  In fact, in one analysis of a scenario, the commentary has focused exclusively on the role of the female since the 1990s, a point the professor continues to make.

How to prevent rape

Recently there are those who have turned the tables and created a list of things men can do to avoid raping. The emphasis in this instance in on the choices males make that could ultimately lead to rape with the encouragement to avoid these behaviours.  Underlying this message is an awareness that men are not helpless victims of their own urges but have the capacity to make better choices that will ultimately protect themselves and those whom they may sexually desire.

What do you think?  What should young people be taught?  How is this different for males and females?  When should this be introduced?  Who should teach it?  Your thoughts are welcomed!

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

 

Twitter Trends

#IfIdieInASchoolShooting

I have to admit, I haven’t quite gotten the hang of tweeting yet.  Still, I have added @Thrivefamilies to the twitterverse because I know that this is where we can connect to teenagers and I expect my teen to help with this process.

One of the other reasons I have included Twitter as part of our social media presence is to monitor what is trending.  Via Twitter, it is possible for us to get a glimpse into the thoughts, struggles and hopes of teenagers.  To that end, my teenager asked me if I had noticed a hashtag that had grown in popularity this past weekend #IfIdieInASchoolShooting.

Using the Search…

For those who haven’t used Twitter, you can set your preferences to identify the most popular trends for a particular target area.  I focus on Canada.  It would seem my teen has a wider view and so, this morning I entered #IfIdieInASchoolShooting in the search.  The results made my heart break:

  • #IfIdieInASchoolShooting or any shooting, I want to be buried next to my brother.
  • #IfIdieInASchoolShooting I will be just one of the many kids who’s (sic) life meant nothing to our lawmakers. Just another statistic.
  • We, teenagers, are tweeting using #IfIdieInASchoolShooting. The saddest part about it? We have already had these thoughts – have already wondered if it will be our school next, what we will do if it happens to us, and how our community will (or will not) respond.

Why does it matter?

We live in Canada where gun control is far stricter than the US.  The odds of our teenagers falling victim to a school shooting is far lower than their American peers.  Still, they are watching members of their generation who, instead of feeling young and invincible, are genuinely concerned about the possibility of being gunned down at school.

We can tell our kids they are safe.  But they know that already.  What they are seeing is a world where life isn’t fair.  Where innocence is lost.  Where governments fail to protect.  Where big business is more important than lives.  They are witnesses to a symptom that the world is not as wonderful as the song claims it should be.

What can families do?

If our teenagers are following these trends, parents need to be courageous in our response.  We need to listen to their concerns and be honest about what is possible, what we can do to protect ourselves and support the efforts of their American peers to protect themselves.

While it is unlikely to happen here, it matters to some teens that it happens and that makes it worth discussing.  Conversation is always important, as is a willingness to support efforts our teenagers offer to advocate on behalf of those they see as vulnerable.  Our teenagers are reading #IfIdieInASchoolShooting.  It is up to us to engage them further so that they can find hope in the midst of a sad situation.

Thrive! A living manual for families uses the tools of social media and food and fellowship to facilitate conversation about the blessings and challenges of being family today.  Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/

March for our Lives – a parent’s perspective

A parent's perspective on an important youth-led movement for today

March for our Lives

“I’m not bullet proof”; “Am I next”, “If I die in a school shooting forget burial – just drop my body off on the steps of congress”, “will I live to cast my ballot?”, #neveragain. The signs held by young people carried a powerful message on Mar. 24th, 2018 as millions gathered to call for change. Young people shouldn’t have to worry about violence. They should be able to focus on enjoying their lives, living to the fullest, having their Ferris Bueller day off.
Instead, we have seen survivors of yet another horrific school shooting stand front and centre of a long debate. The teenage leaders of this evolving movement gathered a following through social media, experienced the attacks of those who disagree with their position, and still have found spaces where their voices are heard.
I saw the photo on the cover of Time magazine. In the image the only words were the magazine title and “ENOUGH” but I instantly knew who these young people were. At once my heart is breaking and hopeful. Perhaps this will be the moment where change will begin to happen. Perhaps these will be the ones who finally achieve what has long been needed.
My teenager has been following this story with great interest. At times, I have heard concern about the welfare of these young people. I have also heard my teenager ponder what it would be like if we lived in the States: would my teen have been one of the one’s shot or would this outspoken kid rise up alongside individuals like Emma, David and Cameron?
As a parent, the thought is chilling. I can only imagine how traumatic it would be to get a text from your kid that there is an active shooter in their school! The feelings of helplessness, the fear that you may never see your child again, it has to be overwhelming!
The pain of parents has been heard before. In response, they have been offered ‘thoughts and prayers’. It’s not enough. Action is needed. There are many parents who realise this. In the midst of this movement parents are not silent. Rather, if you look hard enough at the photos from the march, it becomes possible to realise that the parents are there too, walking alongside their children, loving them through their support and willingness to offer our shoulders on which our children can stand up and be heard.
So much has changed in our lifetimes and continues to change. The role of family, however it is defined, remains important. Parents continue to play a vital role in helping our children navigate through the challenges and struggles. Do you agree?  How do you feel about the march for our lives and activism of our teenagers?  Comments are welcome! Conversation is important!

Thrive! A living manual for families, is a new ministry project for youth and families in Essex County and beyond. Together we seek to explore the joys and struggles of being family today in a safe and friendly environment through food, fellowship and programming.
Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/ and join the conversation.

The Witness of Teens

My teen was preparing for a speech competition.  Past speeches began with a reflection of what my teen has witnessed.  This time, that reflection became very focused on a particular recent event.

“Six minutes. 17 people killed.” The message was intentionally haunting.  There were teenagers who knew about what had happened at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida before their parents knew.  We had talked about it at home.  What I didn’t know, however, is that social media enabled some of the students to post videos from that day, including a 45 second video that showed up on my teen’s timeline two days later and showed two teenagers, one propped up against the wall, the other lying face down on the ground.  Both surrounded in a pool of blood.  In the background there were screams and cries of the nearby students, as the police escorted them from the building shouting: “Up against the wall! Go, go!”

This was not a scene from movie or a clip from a violent video game.  This was proof of what had actually happened as it was experienced by young people.  The thought of our children being exposed to such violence is heartbreaking.  The world is supposed to be a gentle place.  As parents we chased the monsters from under our children’s beds years ago but the newsfeeds provide reminders that monsters still exist and that being young doesn’t protect us from the violence of the world.

The point of my teen’s speech, however, was not to lament the fear and violence around us but rather to recognise the courage young people have to rise up and speak out for a better world.  It was to highlight those like the young people who are organising the “March for our Lives” and the reality that there are those who are working to build a better world, in own their ways all around us.  It was to remind all who heard it that change can happen as the survivors of Dunblane told the survivors of Parkland

Perhaps this is the gift that we can bring our children – the reality that we don’t need to wait for the world to change, we can be the change we want to see in the world.  Young people have tools in their hands that are more far-reaching than anything we have known to date.  As parents we can help them use these tools in ways that build hope and possibility for today and for the future.  It begins when we realise that our children are not just the future they are the present too and actively seek to nurture the gifts they bring to the conversation.

Thrive! A living manual for families creates space from which we can share our experiences, our heartbreaks and our hopes.  It is a chance for us to come together as families so that together we can build community, together we can be the change we want to see in this world.

Check out http://stpaulstrinity.org/?page_id=2100 for more information or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThriveFamiliesManual/