The Beat: Relationship Violence and Sexual Exploitation

February 15, 2013

Book cover of Almost Home, showing a young person wearing a hoodie.“Almost Home: Helping Kids Move From Homelessness to Hope”
by Kevin Ryan and Tina Kelley, with foreword by Cory Booker

The president of an international organization for homeless youth teams up with a New York Times reporter to tell the stories of young people who overcame homelessness. We think you’ll want to recommend this book to people you know.

Four years and eleven stays at a shelter for homeless teens. That’s how long it took for the teenaged Paulie to escape family abuse, drugs and homelessness and to follow his own path in kickboxing and restaurant work.

The ups and downs of Paulie’s story will be no surprise to...

February 14, 2013

Photograph of Andra Tharp.Last week, we wrote about the dearth of teen dating violence prevention programs that have been shown to be effective. Attempting to fill the gap, especially for young people in high-risk urban communities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed an initiative that targets middle-school students, their parents, their teachers and others.

Local health departments are leading 5-year demonstration projects to test the approach, called Dating Matters, in Oakland, CA, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Chicago and Baltimore. Each project includes evidence-based and evidence-informed curricula for 6th-, 7...

February 12, 2013

Scenarios USA logo shows an image of a globe.As Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month continues, we want to highlight a way youth can share how they would respond to relationship violence.

The “You Gotta Do Something!” Youth Video Contest asks young people under age 21 to finish telling the story of Rob and Ashley, a fictional couple who get into a fight at a party. Youth enter the contest by watching a 14-minute video about Rob and Ashley on YouTube before creating their own video to show what happens next.

Young people must be sponsored by a youth worker or teacher to enter. Winning teams receive a set of educational films written by teens and filmed by professionals, or a gift certificate. The deadline to enter is noon Eastern on February 28, 2013....

February 06, 2013

Photograph of two teens holding hands."Promising Practices in the Prevention of Intimate Partner Violence Among Adolescents" (abstract). Violence and Victims, Vol. 27, No. 6 (December 2012).

What it’s about: Researchers at West Chester University of Pennsylvania looked at programs created to curb teen dating violence and assessed whether they met nine criteria of effective prevention programs. The criteria included promoting healthy relationships, being culturally relevant to young people's lives, and systematically comparing results to the program's goals.

Why read it: ...

February 05, 2013

Screen shot of web app on a smartphone.February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, a chance for youth workers to teach young people about healthy relationships and how to protect themselves from physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Research shows that teen dating violence not only affects young people while it's happening. It also can lead to health problems like eating disorders and suicidal thoughts later on in life.

We decided to test two smartphone applications designed to prevent dating violence and sexual abuse by quickly connecting youth to emergency help. The apps, Circle of 6 and OnWatch, were winners of the Apps Against Abuse technology challenge...

January 31, 2013

Image of the book Girls Like Us.“Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale”
by Rachel Lloyd

In this memoir, a well-known advocate exposes the horrors of sex trafficking, and tells us what it will take to create a society that values and protects girls. NCFY read it, and we tell you why we think it’s a good read for youth workers.

Rachel Lloyd grew up in England with a depressive, alcoholic mother and her series of violent boyfriends. By 14, she had dropped out of school. Faking her age, she did factory work to keep a roof over their heads.

“The pressure to have a baby, at fourteen, already feels intense,” she writes in her memoir “Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where...

January 30, 2013

Photograph of a Native American teen girl.As we continue to learn more about the reasons young people may be sexually exploited, some researchers say Native American young women may be particularly at risk.

VAWNet, an online resource of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, in 2011 reviewed the research on Native women and sex trafficking (PDF, 781KB). The authors of the review point to a 2007 analysis of police records in Hennepin County, MN, which includes Minneapolis. Native women accounted for nearly a quarter of the prostitution arrests that year—a percentage more than 12 times their representation in the...

January 29, 2013

Photograph of a young woman looking thoughtful.The young woman first contacted Bellefaire JCB, a social service agency in Cleveland, complaining of a toothache. Later, she returned because she’d received a card about the organizations’s trafficking program from the team that responded to her call. Letting her approach the program on her own terms was key to getting her in the door, says Karen McHenry, director of homeless youth and street outreach programs.

“Some of the kids aren’t ready to come in,” she says. “We get many calls on our homeless youth hotline every day, but it’s whether the teen feels they can really trust us and that we can help get them to a different situation that matters the most."

McHenry says a young...

January 14, 2013

Photograph of two young people holding hands.A number of studies have shown the challenges that youth in foster care have in establishing healthy romantic relationships. Experiencing abuse and neglect can hinder their ability to connect with others. Youth in foster care also lack role models to give them a picture of what healthy interactions look like.

It stands to reason, then, that youth in foster care might benefit from formal relationship education, like that provided through the Family and Youth Services Bureau's Personal Responsibility Education Program. But when Senior Researcher Mindy Scott and her colleagues at Child Trends, a nonprofit research center in Washington, reviewed the research on programs that teach foster youth about healthy dating and romance, they...

January 02, 2013

Photograph of an adolescent girl with her back against a brick wall.January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, an opportunity to join the White House in raising awareness about these abusive practices. The White House campaign seeks to improve services for trafficking victims in the United States and across the globe.

As partners in the campaign, the Family and Youth Services Bureau and NCFY think every youth worker should be educated about domestic commercial sexual exploitation, a form of trafficking that affects many runaway and homeless youth. Here are some resources we recommend for educating yourself and others...

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