Category Archives: Youth voices

S.H.O.P: Stop the Violence, Heal the Person, Open the Mind, Promote Peace – Sept 15

Please join the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women (and our members, Global Girls, Illinois Caucus on Adolescent Health (Sisters Empowering Sisters), A Long Walk Home, and Young Women's Empowerment Project) for a YOUTH-ORGANIZED & YOUTH-LED Conference about Violence in the Lives of Chicago Girls.

When: September 15, 2012
Where: Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave, Room 300
Time: 10:30 to 5 p.m.
Info: At no cost to participants but PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. You can register HERE.

This conference is targeted to those who identify as young women between the ages of 13 to 22.

Description of the Day:
10:30 am — Registration

11:00 am — Opening Performance by Global Girls

11:30 -1:15 pm- Individual Youth-Led Workshops by Global Girls, A Long Walk Home, Sisters Empowering Sisters, and Young Women’s Empowerment Project — workshops will focus on developing media literacy, sexual violence, verbal and emotional abuse, and institutional violence against girls.

1:15-2pm- Lunch

2-3pm- Self-defense and Writing Workshop — There will be two workshops available. One is a creative writing workshop led by the young women of Sisters Empowering Sisters (ICAH) and the other is a self-defense workshop led by IMPACT CHICAGO.

3-3:15pm- Break

3:15- Youth Poetry Slam

4-5pm- Self Care and Q&A/Closing
Conference participants will be invited to visit various “self-care” stations at the end of the day.

For more information about the conference, contact the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls & Young Women at

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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Art & violence, Events, Violence, Youth voices


New Occasional Paper from YWAT on engaging young men as allies

On November 2-3, 2007, fifteen young men gathered to participate in the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team’s (YWAT’s) Male Ally Training.  The training was created by Ed Mills and members of the YWAT.  Lillian Matanmi, a leadership team member of the YWAT, was the primary coordinator of this project.

Now Ed Mills and members of YWAT have prepared a report on the event.  The report summarizes what took place and indicates some of the training’s strengths and weaknesses.  It also discusses the participants’ – both trainees and facilitators – written and oral feedback, and contains a brief appendix with some of the activities, evaluations and facilitators’ afterthoughts.  The YWAT hopes that this report will be of assistance to other individuals and organizations seeking to create similar trainings.

The report — along with workshop activities and evaluations — is available on the Taskforce website.

The Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team has also developed a toolkit titled “Where Our Boys At? Involving Young Men as Allies to End Violence against Girls.”  In the toolkit, YWAT shares some of the resources (including curricula) that it has developed and perhaps even more importantly  discusses the challenges and accomplishments of its three-year campaign.  The toolkit can be found here!

Thanks to Ed and the members of YWAT for sharing their learnings!  If your group has similar evaluations to share, and would like to submit a proposal for an Occasional Paper, please email us at


New Occasional Paper: C.R.I.M.E. Teens Project

The Taskforce is happy to announce the release of our latest Occasional Paper, by youth and adult allies at the C.R.I.M.E. Teens Project!

The C.R.I.M.E. Teens Project (Compassion, Respect, Inspiration, Motivation, Empathy) is a grassroots, youth led violence prevention program.  Since its inception in 2009, the C.R.I.M.E. Teens have worked toward multiple achievements, most notably presenting to hundreds of elementary, middle school, and professional populations through an adolescent-centric perspective of community, school, relational, and familial violence, and authoring and publishing a book targeted to educators and direct service professionals on how to better understand the youth experience of violence.

This paper is a written collaboration between the C.R.I.M.E. youth and the adult supporters to dive deeper into the critical issues of violence against young girls and women, particularly focusing on cyber bullying, relational violence, and teen dating relationships.  The young women of the C.R.I.M.E. Teens also provide personal narratives of their own experience with complex trauma and violence and their stories of resilience and advocacy to aid other young girls and women in their own recovery.

In the words of one of the program’s youth,

“The violence rate toward and between women is increasing in Chicago neighborhoods. We have all witnessed violence in our own ways. We want to talk about how we experienced violence and what we have learned from it.  We are a group of teens trying to stop violence and help communities come together as one. As youth, people think just because we are teens, we don’t really CARE, but we do; we want to use our voice to help make change.”

You can read the paper by C.R.I.M.E. Teens here.


New Occasional Paper: The Bad Encounter Line, by YWEP

We are thrilled to share with you the latest Occasional Paper, by C. Angel Torres and Naima Paz of the Young Women’s Empowerment Project!  The paper looks at the organization’s Bad Encounter Line, which they describe like this:

The Bad Encounter Line (BEL) is a way to report bad experiences you have had with institutions such as police, the health care system, public aid, DCFS, CPS, etc. In our research we noticed so many girls and transgender girls reporting bad encounters from systems that are set in place to help them. So we wondered is the same happening to boys as well; so we expanded the BEL to reach them as well, and as we have been receiving data we have learned that these systems are affecting all genders. Based off the BEL, we started a task force for street based youth and wrote a Bill of Rights that we want non-profits to sign so they have to be accountable to us and can’t get away with denying us help.

The paper is available for downloading – along with the Bill of Rights that YWEP members developed – on the Taskforce website.

We thank the Young Women’s Empowerment Project for their powerful and important work, and for their willingness to share it with us through the Taskforce.  We encourage you to read what the young people from YWEP have to say about this issue, why it matters, and how they are taking concrete steps to address it.

Stay tuned for our next two papers, to be released this fall, both featuring youth voices….. The first, by youth and adult allies at the CRIME Teens Project in Bronzeville, describes their approach to addressing bullying, cyberbullying and teen dating violence. The second, by youth leader Tiara Epps of Beyondmedia Education, will be in the form of a video diary, and will share her learnings from the Chain of Change project.

If you are interested in submitting an abstract for our next round of Occasional Papers, please email us at


3 things that might surprise you about Slutwalk Chicago

Slutwalk Chicago came to town yesterday and it was great!  Here are 3 facts that might surprise you about the event and the Slutwalk movement.  These three facts have been underreported – and in some cases even twisted – by the mainstream media.

1.  Slutwalk wasn’t (mostly) about sluts. 

There were certainly women with signs saying “slut” and dressed in provocative clothing – and more power to them!  It was great to see women so comfortable in their own skin, reclaiming the street.

But don’t believe the media hype, or the carefully selected media images, suggesting that the march consisted of 2,000 women in lingerie.  Most of the marchers were wearing everyday clothing, of all varieties, reflecting their individual identities and personal styles.  The overall message was to put an end to victim-blaming, no matter what survivors are wearing.

2. Men were a central part of Slutwalk Chicago. 

Men marched on their own, with their girlfriends, with their boyfriends, and in groups.  Men worked as volunteers along the route to support the marchers.  They cheered and chanted, they held signs saying “An injury to one is an injury to all” and “Fight for a World Without Sexism.”

This was one of the most moving and underreported aspects of the march – to see men out on the streets demanding an end to violence against women is a huge shift in a movement that has long alienated male allies.

We in the anti-violence movement need to embrace this change, and to further encourage male allies to organize workshops, rallies and other events to speak out against violence.

3. It’s time for the anti-violence movement to listen to younger women, who have developed important new messaging. 

If you think an anti-violence march only has the message of “end violence,” then listen up: this march aimed to promote positive sexuality that is consensual and free from violence.  Posters like “Wow, I like sex so so much when it’s consensual!” send an important message that many younger women in the movement have embraced.

You hear it from groups like SHEER (Sexual Health Education to End Rape), a group that has partnered with many organizations in Chicago, including the Taskforce, to build a new sex-positive anti-violence movement.  In their own words, SHEER is

a survivor centered, sex positive, pro-consent coalition formed to prevent sexual assault, abuse, harassment and victim blaming and to address myths about rape by promoting an affirmative consent standard as the cornerstone of healthy sexual interactions. An affirmative consent standard calls for the use of enthusiastic consent that is active, mutual and ongoing throughout a sexual encounter.

This new messaging is helping to shape the movement going forward, and it was displayed in full force at Slutwalk Chicago.


Three Little Girls

Just wanted to share this great, powerful video by Jasiri X (together with 10 year old Hadiyah Yates), Three Little Girls.  Here’s the reasoning behind it:

For Woman’s History Month we wanted to shed light on how violent this society is especially towards woman and girls. “Three Little Girls” tells the stories of the senseless murders of Christina Taylor Green who was killed during the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Brisenia Flores who was gunned down by anti-immigrant militia intent on starting a race war, and Aiyana Jones who shot to death while asleep in her home, by the Detroit Police Department, while they were filming a reality TV show.

I realize these are sad stories, but how can we not be moved to action by the cold-blooded killings of innocent little girls? We have to begin to take an unflinching look at a culture that continues to glorify guns, bombs, and war and sees violence and aggression as the only solutions to its problems.

And here’s the video:


Kudos to the students at Dickinson College

A big shout-out to the students at Dickinson College, who have staged a sit-in to demand changes to the school’s sexual assault policies, and who are continuing their protest until additional concessions are made.

The actions started on Wednesday, when  300 students marched to the President’s Office and staged a sit-in.  Their efforts have already had an impact.  Local CBS news from Carlisle, Pennsylvania reports that “the protests have convinced the administration to include reports of sexual violence on the school’s text alert system.”  But to their credit, the students are refusing to end the sit-in until the remaining demands are met. Jezebel, quoting from student representatives, reports that these include:

1. Full transparency of the sexual misconduct policy process
2. The Department of Public Safety must send red alerts to the whole campus when sexual assault or rape is reported
3. A stronger administrative stance against sexual assault and rape
4. Expulsion must be the protocol for students found guilty of rape and sexual assault
5. Focus on creating a proactive education-based sexual violence prevention program
6. Specific plans and dates for concrete changes

The students’ commitment to collective action, their focus on raising consciousness and awareness around the issue, and their concrete recommendations for the university are all critical elements to their success.  It is exactly these kinds of efforts that will have a real impact on the issue of sexual violence.

This coverage by ABC news includes video and images of the protests, and you can hear directly from the students about their efforts: