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September 21, 2017

9/13/2017 8:27:00 AM
Back to school - gut check time!

By now most, if not all of our young people are back to school and beginning to expand their brain power and book knowledge.
Parents and guardians have spent lots of time and money preparing them for the first day of classes with supplies. At any age, however, a young person may be affected by various forms of violence and not be prepared for how to recognize it, or process what they are experiencing.
Domestic and sexual violence do not discriminate. Any time is a good time to start having on-going conversations with young people about what these types of violence look like, how they may be affected by it, how to help someone they know that may be surviving it and ultimately how to prevent it.
Talking about it
How do we start having this conversation? Any age of young people can learn from you that we all need to treat each other with care and respect.
If someone hurts you physically, or tries to force you to do something you do not want to do; if your gut tells you something isn't right, say something to someone you trust.
Make sure that they can name multiple people they would trust (parents, coaches, teachers, counselors, church members, activity families, etc.) and talk to, if something happened to them. Continue to encourage those relationships and build that trust.
If they don't quite understand the terms, explain how these types of violence may look to their age level. Young adults dating (or thinking about dating) may see a potential partner constantly texting, messaging, or calling them whether they want this constant contact or not.
Younger children may have a friend who hits them whenever they're angry or upset about something.
A freshman at college may go to a party with friends and see different things going on that give them an uncomfortable feeling or gut reaction.
Gut check time
Encourage every age of young person to understand what their gut instinct is, how to understand it and how to react and trust it when they feel it.
The gut instinct may react to something directly affecting them, or they may see something going on with someone else and have an instinct to step in and stop it.
There may not be logic to explain what they are feeling in those moments, but they have some education to trigger their body into knowing that something just isn't quite "right."
You can help them build their confidence in their gut instinct by thinking back to a time when they listened to that inner voice. Have them write down the situation, what they were thinking, what their body and gut was telling them, what they did to listen to it and how it turned out. Maybe there are multiple times they can think of when they listened to their gut.
Establishing the history can help build that confidence to listen to themselves and their bodies when they're in different situations.
Helping to prepare
Help prepare the important young people in your life not only to expand their brain power in book knowledge, but also to continue to expand their confidence in their gut instincts.
Practice can build their confidence and allow them to excel in those gut check times.
If you would like more information on having these on-going conversations, or for more details on what domestic or sexual violence may look like to different ages of students, contact our G.R.A.C.E. youth program advocates at youth@mnswcc.org or 800-376-4311.

Miranda Roskamp is the Cottonwood/Jackson youth outreach coordinator for the Southwest Crisis Center, which is based in Windom.

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