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Gun Violence and the #NeverAgain movement from PBJ Youth Perspective

Almost a month ago, on February 14th 2018, a day dedicated to love and friendship, another mass shooting occurred in the United States of America.

But this time, it has been different. Young people — high school students to be more precise, have been at the forefront of this #NeverAgain movement. They have started a movement that has inspired and captivated the minds of millions across the country.

They want change and they want it now. Thoughts and prayers are simply not enough when it comes to gun violence. The time for change is undoubtedly overdue.

We asked a couple of questions to our young people from our after school program: Peers Building Justice (PBJ), regarding gun violence, and here is what they had to say about it:

Maddy, 16 years old

1) Do you feel inspired/hopeful by the movement the Parkland survivors have started regarding gun control? Why or why not?

I am absolutely inspired by the movement of the Parkland survivors regarding gun control. It’s really incredible to see young people not just speaking up, but also genuinely being heard by adults both in the community and in those in political office across the country. Teens are constantly pointing out the issues in our society and working to fix them, but often have to work twice as hard to even simply be acknowledged, so I think this shows progress in many different areas of our community. However, even still, I thinks it’s important that we remember that teens and young people of color have been speaking out against gun violence in their communities for a very long time, and have not gotten the kind of attention the Parkland survivors are receiving now. There is something to be said about the fact that this is growing out of a very affluent, white community in our country and that cannot be forgotten. With this in mind, though, the teens who have worked to start this movement inspire me more every day to speak up and use my voice, especially as a young white person in a similarly affluent and white community, to advocate for gun control along with other issues I care about and be an ally to those who don’t have as loud of a voice as I do.

2) What are your thoughts/feelings when going to school every day? Do you feel safe? Why or why not?

As a general rule, no I don’t feel particularly safe when going to school every day, knowing that guns are so easily accessible and schools are such easy and common targets. Yet, even still, physical safety in school is not something that is constantly on my mind, which is mostly due to the immense amount of privilege I have. However, part of this is also due to our desensitization, as a society, to gun violence. It occurs so regularly that, even as fears have risen, so has our tolerance for it. An act of gun violence is something that could almost pass easily over my mind nowadays. Because of this, except for in special circumstances, I generally think little of shootings occurring at my own school. While this may be good, as it would be extremely detrimental to my mental health were I to think about it all the time, it’s also problematic. I, and all of us, have to be thinking of these things because they need to be addressed. This should not be something that any student should have to have on their mind when they enter their school.

3) Do you believe your school, community, and/or local politicians are doing what is needed to address the gun violence and pass tighter gun legislature?

Generally, no, I don’t believe any institutions or generally us as a community, are doing enough to end gun violence and pass tighter gun legislation. When the Parkland shooting happened, I genuinely heard nothing about it all day. None of my teachers or administration said anything regarding it. I understand it’s scary to talk about these things, especially being students and teachers. Students and teachers are two groups who spend most of our days in school, and are obviously common targets, but any change has to start with talk. Luckily, conversation is happening at a larger level, as we can see with the Parkland survivors, however, it is obviously too late. It seems that every time we talk, every time we push for change, every time politicians start agreeing to pay attention to this issue, it’s already too late. We have to be making this change, passing stricter gun legislation, now, before we stop talking and another shooting occurs. It seems we are on the right track right now at least, as we have gotten momentum from the Parkland survivors, but this has to continue. All of us, and especially those with power in schools, and particularly politics, have a duty to prevent future mass shootings. Thoughts and prayers after the fact aren’t enough anymore.

Enrique, 15 years old

1) Do you feel inspired/hopeful by the movement the Parkland survivors have started regarding gun control? Why or why not?

I feel very inspired by the Parkland students. They have started a very important movement that should change a lot of people’s lives in a positive way. Also, a lot of people think since we’re students and that we are so young, that we don’t know what we’re talking about, but, these Parkland students are an example of the large impact we have to the community as students. These students suffered a very painful event that could have possibly been avoided by stronger gun control. The discussion over gun control has always been pushed to the side, and it’s something that shouldn’t be ignored. School shootings have been occurring a lot since the start of this year. The proposed solution is implementing new gun control legislation. That’s what the Parkland students and all students want to see, a resolution to the amount of school shootings.

2) What are your thoughts/feelings when going to school every day? Do you feel safe? Why or why not?

I am very thankful that most of the days that I go to school, I can feel safe. But, some students don’t feel safe at their school, even though schools should be a safe zone for students. Also, there are a lot of issues with schools being threatened. For example, one day that I didn’t feel safe at school was when there was a shooting threat. Even my parents were doubtful if they should’ve sent me and my older brother to school that day, but when I arrived at school I realized that most students didn’t show up. It was such a big deal that it even seemed like the teachers were scared. For example, my 1st period teacher decided to address what the situation was and why so many students were missing. Also, he even thought it was necessary to explain to us what our emergency escape options were because everyone was very paranoid. Nobody should have to be scared to come to school, we should all feel safe in our learning environments.

3) Do you believe the National School Walkouts and the March for Our Lives rallies will impact/will lead to change? Why or why not?

I do believe that the National School Walkouts and the March for Our Live rallies will lead to change because they’re strong events that can send a message to the government. If the government truly cares about public opinion, they will see the amount of support shown in our movement and will propose a solution. Also, all these movements will impact the consideration for new legislation because all these protests will get a lot of attention bringing in more support from others. Although, this movement will need a lot of contribution with a lot of hard work, I believe we are a strong community of students that can come together to raise our voice over something we support.

Tatai, 17 years old

1) Do you feel inspired/hopeful by the movement the Parkland survivors have started regarding gun control? Why or why not?

I feel extremely inspired and hopeful by the Never Again movement that the Parkland survivors have started. I find it motivating to see how a few high school students have started a nationwide movement that has created change even in our current political climate. The Parkland survivors have inspired me significantly. I am very impressed by how they were able to take social media and use it as an outlet to create a non-partisan movement demanding to enforce gun control policy. I have a lot of confidence in my generation with all of the political action and participation I have seen and will continue to see. This movement is also very important in revolutionizing the way that politicians see students, making them recognize teen activists as political leaders that need to be taken seriously.

2) What are your thoughts/feelings when going to school every day? Do you feel safe why or why not?

While attending a predominantly wealthy and white high school in Boulder, and while being white and living in Boulder, I usually feel pretty safe on a day to day basis. Two years ago on Facebook someone posted a bomb threat towards Boulder High, and the next day absences were not marked but school was still in session. It was soon found out to be someone who was angry over the basketball rivalry and blowing off steam. I quickly realized that many students had become so numb to this trend of violence that it has become a common part of some peoples humor, this school year (2017-2018) at least two people have been suspended for posting ‘jokes’ about gun violence on school property. I have only lived in Boulder for three years and have experienced other times during my education when I haven’t felt or been safe at school, my safety’s came into question as a result of fights, being bullied, people bringing weapons to school, and other physical threats.

3) Do you believe the National School Walkouts and the March for Our Lives rallies will impact/will lead to change? Why or why not?

I do believe that the National School Walkouts and the March for Our Lives rallies can lead to change. All fifty states will be having marches on the 24th of March, and I really hope that the amount of students that will be marching will be enough to convince our government that they need to protect us and not their guns. The March for Our Lives is led by the Parkland survivors, I believe that the political action that they have created in my generation will continue to lead to change even past gun control. This nationwide movement is going to make a lasting impact, and I am ready to make history.

Our PBJ youth, along with other young people, teachers, and many other individuals, will be participating in the National School Walkouts and the March for Our Lives rallies here in Boulder and Denver, Colorado.

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We encourage every BVSD high school to participate in both National School Walkouts. The first walkout will be on March 14, 2018 for 17 minutes (one minute for every individual lost in the Parkland shooting), and the second will be an all-day walkout on April 20th, 2018 to commemorate the anniversary of the Columbine shooting in 1999.

The March for Our Lives will take place on March 24, 2018 at the Denver’s Civic Center Park from 2-5pm.

We encourage everyone to come out and join this very important movement.

 

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Peers Building Justice: Defining Healthy Relationships through a Social Justice Lens

Peers Building Justice: Defining Healthy Relationships through a Social Justice Lens

With Healthy Relationships we also have to take into consideration how our social locations and the identities that we hold can reflect healthy/unhealthy relationships. This is a list of some key elements of what a healthy relationship looks like with an anti-oppressive lens.

  • Communication: Understanding your partner(s) social location can change the way they communicate (how and where they grew up, how they were raised, personality, family etc). Being honest and open about your views, feelings, thoughts, etc are really important. We also understand how society has put pressure on certain genders to hold back emotions. Communication is key to a healthy relationship so work with your partner(s) and start talking about what’s going on.  
  • Active listening: Listening is one thing, but active listening is completely different. Listening is when someone is saying something and you are hearing their voice/words or body movements, but not their message. Active listening is fully focusing, concentrating, understanding, and responding what the other person told you.
  • All-way street: All people need to treat each other with a “love ethic” (similar to the Golden Rule). Bell Hooks explains a “love ethic” as:

  “To live our lives based on the principles of a love ethic – showing care, respect,  knowledge, integrity, and the will to cooperate – we have to be courageous.Learning how to face our fears is one way we embrace love. Our fear may not go away, but it will not stand in the way. Those of us who have already chosen to embrace a love ethic, allowing it to govern and inform how we think and act, know that when we let our light shine, we draw to us and are drawn to other bearers of light. We are not alone.”

  • Empathy: It is truly important to feel WITH someone. Sympathy and Empathy can be mistaken as similar, but they are not. Sympathy is when you feel sorrow, pity, sadness, etc for the troubles or hardships that another person faces, but empathy is truly feeling for them, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.
  • Respect each other: Respecting each other means we are respecting our boundaries and that of our partner(s). It means that we are taking into consideration all of our privileges and where we are not privileged. Making sure we respect where they are coming from. Respecting their decisions, respecting their being, respecting their passions — and that can look different for everyone. Check in with your partner(s).
  • Love: Love yourself. Love is all the factors we have listed and more. Love is defined by the beholder and love is everything healthy. You define love.
  • Trust: It is important to trust your partner(s). When you trust them, you feel confident. You feel sure about what they are saying or doing. We can feel trust in our bodies and know when we are being lied to. When you lie to your partner(s) that can create an unhealthy relationship.  If you can’t trust your partner(s) ask yourself why? And communicate your thoughts/feelings to them. Be honest with yourself.
  • Be Supportive: Supporting your partner(s) is supporting their process. Its being there for them. When all partner(s) encourage each other to be the best person they can be! Support is given and received.
  • Being able to share ideas and feelings in an open way: It is a great feeling when you know you can share your feelings and ideas with your partner(s) and know that they are going to respond with a love ethic. We know that human beings don’t agree all the time, and that’s fine, as long as you don’t judge or put your partner(s) down.
  • Being able to communicate and resolve problems together: To be able to collect your thoughts, describe your feelings, and letting your partner(s) know when you don’t feel comfortable with a situation or a personal matter. Allowing their to be space to actively listen, ask questions, and empathize. If there needs to be space before resolving an issue communicate that need. Acting on violence is abuse and will never be accepted.
  • Relationships are a roller coaster of emotions, and it is okay: People will have emotions with any and every relationship: (will feel sad, angry, jealous, etc) and how you react to your emotions can be either healthy or unhealthy. The key element in any relationship is to feel happy most of the time with your partner(s) and with yourself.

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26

Jul
2015

No Comments

In #TDVAM 2015
Events
News

By PBJ

Summer Action Research Internship

On 26, Jul 2015 | No Comments | In #TDVAM 2015, Events, News | By PBJ

In August, PBJ will launch its new summer program. The Summer Action Research Internship (ARI) is a six-day long participatory inquiry project that will look at sexual health education and policies in Boulder Valley School District. We believe that the knowledge that young people carry about their every day life experiences is invaluable for informing the structures, policies, and curriculum that directly affect them. Read more…

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12

Feb
2015

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In #TDVAM 2015

By PBJ

It’s all connected: a longer response to mansplaining trolls

On 12, Feb 2015 | No Comments | In #TDVAM 2015 | By PBJ

Earlier today, PBJ had the opportunity to join Miriam Schiff on KGNU’s program, A Public Affair. For about an hour, we had a fruitful discussion on the topic of teen dating violence and how it manifests itself within our local context. Towards the end of the program we received calls from listeners. The last caller threw us all for a loop with a rather long-winded mansplaination

After an almost inaudible preamble, our caller presented the observation that the earlier part of our show had been full of tangential rhetoric that had not accurately addressed the topic of teen dating violence. Although his call was hard to hear, it surfaced that he was under the impression that teen dating violence was a problem found within a vacuum. A problem within a vacuum, needing to be addressed individually without regard to the multiple forms of oppression and violence that we had been discussing. A problem within a vacuum, that we were obviously addressing incorrectly.

Whether or not this call was well-intentioned, it does provide us with yet another opportunity to further discuss some of the root causes of teen dating violence and its connectedness to all forms of oppression.

Although teen dating violence is often portrayed as an interpersonal conflict between two people, there is much more at play. When we discuss teen dating violence within our workshops we incorporate discussions of power and oppression; before discussing the dynamics of healthy and unhealthy relationships. Although violence is inexcusable and it is ultimately one’s choice whether to use violence or not, the norms found throughout our society send conflicting messages in regards to violence and when its use is appropriate.

Understanding the influence of these mixed messages allows us to see the problem of teen dating violence as much larger than an interpersonal conflict. It is a societal problem that needs to be addressed as such. Since teen relationships do not occur within a vacuum, the power imbalances found within society find their way into intimate relationships of young and older folks. These power imbalances then become tools of oppression within unhealthy relationships.

The violence found within teen relationships is also intricately connected to all other forms of violence, because at its root lies power and control. A deconstruction of varying forms of oppression shows that power and control are the foundation of all -isms. The -isms discussed last week are tools used by those with more power over those with less. The same is true for unhealthy teen dating relationships. Within unhealthy relationships, the person with more power uses violence (physical, emotional, verbal, sexual) to gain power and control over their partner. One person’s world gets smaller as the other’s gets bigger. Looking at teen dating violence as a microcosm of the violence found at more systemic levels, allows us to see just how closely related they are.

As we look closer, we realize the relatedness of teen dating violence to the Islamophobic killings in North Carolina, the racist policing throughout the United States, the sexist policing of uteri by government, the transphobic murder of trans* people of color, the sexist/classist/racist skeleton of the prison industrial complex, and many more forms of oppression. As we deconstruct the problem of violence, we realize that violence against anyone is violence against everyone. It is our job as anti-oppression educators and activists to call it out whenever and wherever.

So yes, while a large portion of the education that we do within Peers building Justice (PBJ) revolves around the dynamics of healthy and unhealthy relationships, it is equally integral to our work that we continue the dismantling of various forms of oppression within our society. As Shiri Eisner reminds us in Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution, “It means understanding that different kinds of oppression are interlinked, and that one can’t liberate only one group without the others. It means acknowledging kyriarchy and intersectionality – the fact that along different axes, we’re all both oppressed and oppressors, privileged and disprivileged.” With this reminder, PBJ continues to raise awareness about teen dating violence while working to dismantle all forms of oppression whenever and wherever they appear.

So, save your mansplainations. We’re on the right track.

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