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Youth Violence Prevention Week {March 19 – 23, 2012}

For me, high school was four years ago, but there are many things that I can remember as if they happened yesterday. The things that I remember the most are, of course, the good times with friends at lunch, after school, or on the weekends. Football games, dances, parties, and graduation. All of these times were fun, and without a doubt memorable, but you can never predict when a fun graduation celebration will turn into a horrific event, all too unnecessarily.

It was the week before graduation. We had all been infected with “senioritis” with the anticipation of graduation within reach. Graduation parties were on the horizon and they were at the top of everyone’s to-do list. There was one party in particular that I can never forget. Not because of the friends, the music, the dancing, the swimming, the food and drinks, but for a reason that was so disturbing and devastating to many.

Someone was murdered that night. He was 18 years old.

I left the party long before this event took place. There were two young men, arguing over a girl. One of them beat the other with a large metal pipe, threw him in a ditch on the side of the road, leaving him there to die.

Police were able to find the perpetrator and he is currently serving his time in prison.

So he’s in prison…

A prison sentence cannot bring back the victim. A prison sentence cannot console the victim’s family. A prison sentence cannot get rid of the anger and sadness of senseless domestic violence that the victim’s family wakes up and faces every day knowing that they can never see their son again.

Youth Violence Prevention Week exists to gain awareness and involvement of youth within their communities to educate others on a way to reduce violence.

What’s the least that you can do for Youth Violence Prevention Week? With just a click, join me each day of this week, March 19 through 23, and explore different concepts that promote youth violence prevention. Today we begin with Promote Respect and Tolerance.

“Promote Respect and Tolerance”

Today, in our recognition of Youth Violence Prevention week, we Promote Respect and Tolerance. According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Campaign website, the purpose of this day is “to address common challenges facing today’s youth such as prejudice, bullying, and disrespect.”

Gaining respect from others may seem difficult, but like many things in life, it is the small acts or steps you take that make a difference.

In order to promote respect and tolerance:

  • Listening is key. Take the time to really listen to what others have to say and act accordingly. Don’t make people feel like they are speaking to a brick wall and don’t make others feel belittled. Look at everyone as an equal and do not make brash assumptions. You do not know what other struggles one may have endured in the past. Be proactive and show that you want to hear what they have to say without interruption. Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them. Be that person. You never realize how much it helps the other individual.
  • Your word is also a sign of respect. If you make a promise, stick to it. Being reliable is a trait that gains immediate respect.
  • Notice what is important to the other person and comment on it. Oftentimes people have passions for things that greatly go unnoticed, even though they may mean a great deal to the individual. If you notice this, mention it. Encourage them. Let them know that what they are doing is deserving of being noticed. It can be anything small or large: cooking, volunteering, painting, writing, building things, ANTYHING! It’s an inherent trait; humans like to be praised, especially on things they are passionate about.
  • Do not ridicule mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, including you. There are mistakes you have made that you wouldn’t want people ridiculing you about. Put yourself in the other’s position and think of how you would want to be treated. Often times, people know when they have made a mistake. They do not need someone reiterating it over and over. Be fair to the other person, and offer suggestions of what they could do differently next time.

Today, just follow the rules of respect and tolerance. Go by The Golden Rule – “One should treat others, as one would like others to treat oneself.” Think before you act and listen before you speak. You may learn something and help someone else at the same time.

Brittney Nowak
AWP Intern

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