Participatory & Empowering Youth Spaces & Places: Conceptualizing New Directions in Research on TDV Prevention & Health Promotion

Sunday, January 18, 2015: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM
Balconies M, Fourth Floor (New Orleans Marriott)
Cluster: Violence Against Women and Children
Heather Storer, MSW, University of Washington, Arlene Weisz, PhD, Wayne State University, Beverly Black, PhD, University of Texas at Arlington, Erin A. Casey, PhD, University of Washington and Taryn Lindhorst, PhD, University of Washington
Over the last two decades youth engagement approaches have redirected attention from the prevention of problem behavior to a more expansive focus on the role supportive structures, social norms and institutions play in the promotion of youth empowerment and active youth participation in community life. Youth participation frameworks emphasize that youth are vital resources and contributors in the institutions and social issues that impact their lives. Youth engagement approaches have been employed and evaluated in the prevention of substance abuse among adolescents. However, despite the fact that between 10-25% of adolescents have experienced some form of physical violence within a dating relationship, there has been limited deliberate implementation of youth empowerment approaches in Teen Dating Violence (TDV) prevention. TDV prevention programs often implement youth advisory boards and peer education programs, but do not intentionally utilize empowerment-based theoretical approaches to guide their work or add to the body of research on TDV prevention.  The aim of this roundtable is to prompt a dialogue about reimagining TDV prevention from a focus on the reduction of problem behavior to a more expansive research agenda on youth participation, engagement and thriving in adulthood.

This roundtable discussion will provide a conceptual overview of how youth engagement and participatory concepts can be integrated into research agendas focused on preventing TDV. Discussion will focus on identifying the programmatic features of youth empowerment programs including: physical and psychological safety, supportive relationships with trusted adults, opportunities for belonging and inclusion, positive social norms, support for efficacy and mattering, critically questioning social institutions, and opportunities for skill-building. This discussion will provide tangible examples of how youth engagement perspectives can be conceptualized, operationalized, and measured in youth bystander programs, as an example of youth-centered TDV prevention programming.

Additionally, this discussion will include perspectives on the challenges of conducting empirical research on youth leadership approaches being utilized in TDV programs. Presenters will discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with youth leadership approaches in TDV and describe areas for future research and practice development.  We will discuss how researchers can collaborate with schools, the environments where youth are most readily found, to encourage or impede active youth participation in response to TDV. The presenters will share examples from qualitative research with youth in school settings, including a study exploring youths’ reluctance to get involved in TDV prevention. Schools can play an important role in encouraging youth participation by providing opportunities for youth to be involved in violence prevention activities, raising awareness about the reality of TDV, nurturing youth agency and voice, and creating more equitable relationships and partnerships between adults and students.

Our ultimate goal in this roundtable is to inspire a stimulating discussion on how social work researchers can assist youth-focused TDV prevention programs to transform community attitudes about youth participation, raise awareness about TDV and function as vehicles for promoting the cultivation of relationships with caring adults, meaningful opportunities and skill development that can expand the body of research on TDV prevention.

See more of: Roundtables