Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Teens Tackle Abuse and Dating Violence

Most kids use the money saved from their first job to buy a car — but not Jordan Coleman.  After playing the voice of Tyrone on Nick Jr.’s Backyardians, his mom challenged her 12 year old son to “do” something positive with his earnings. 

This challenge ignited Jordan as a film-maker and he wrote, directed and produced “Say It Loud!” a documentary that explores the importance of education for African-American boys.  His work was showcased in AMC Theatres in a seven city tour and featured appearances by Rev. Al Sharpton, Ludacris and Kobe Bryant. 

Jordan’s next film, “Payin the Price” addresses teen dating violence, a subject which deserves more attention — and perhaps now will with the Presidential Proclamation that February is National Teen Dating Awareness and Prevention Month

Jordan says he was inspired to tackle this difficult subject after the violent incident between R&B couple Chris Brown and Rihanna that landed Chris Brown in jail and Rihanna in the hospital.  Determined to tackle this subject as his next film, Jordan began writing his script, and involved his family — his mother and brother for production support, and his father, Senator Adams for political support.  In June 2010 Jordan and Senator Adams held a press conference introducing two NYS Senate bills that protect domestic violence victims. 

Defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), dating violence is a pattern of violent behavior that someone uses against their partner to cause pain.

With close to 72% of 8th and 9th grade students dating these days, it’s important for this age-group to understand the challenge they are up against.

  • 1-in-4 teens reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual violence each year
  • 1-in-5 high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner
  • 1-in-11 teens reports being a victim of physical dating violence each year 

“According to national statistics, there are some parents who don’t believe teen dating violence is real, but it is.  And it’s happening more and more, and the violence is not just physical.  Now kids are using the internet and texting to bully and harass,” explained Jordan. 

Despite efforts to raise awareness of this issue, a vast majority of parents — an estimated 81% — believe that teen dating violence is either not an issue or admit to not knowing if it is an issue. 

  • Though 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58%) could not correctly identify the signs 
  • Even when the issue of dating violence was obvious to the parents, 78%of teens experiencing this type of abuse report staying in the relationship despite their parents’ advice.

Nationwide, 10% of students report being physically abused by a boyfriend or a girlfriend, which translates to 1.5 million teens nationwide.

While the relationship between the people is often different, the behaviors of bullies and teen dating violence offenders are the same.  Their actions are intentionally and repeatedly hurtful and involves a power differential.  Do you know the early warning signs of teen violence?

Jordan Coleman is not the only teen we know tackling the challenge of teen abuse. 

  • 13 year old Kate Garret started a Club at School and is selling wristbands to bring awareness around bullying (especially LGBT)
  • 14 year old Lindsay Swatland is part of a student-led activism group bringing awareness to teen dating violence yearlong.
  • 15 year old Patrick Kohlmann is a high school student who started an anti-bullying awareness campaign called “Through My Eyes.”  He ignited as a cause crusader after a bully in his school threatened his life, and pushed him down a flight of stairs. 
  • 16 year old Nadine Sanchez, Miss New Mexico’s new outstanding teen has made “Love Is Respect” her platform, serving to further raise awareness of teen dating violence.
  • 17 year old Artesse Conley, an ambassador of ”Start Strong,” has used skits to explore how easily signs of affection among their peers can turn into control games, harassment and violence.
  • 17 year old Miranda Blomquist, is one of five members of a new student organization, “Stopping Abuse Forever” or SAFE, that gives members the chance to help peers impacted by the problem.

Now through 12/15/2011, KooDooZ is asking youth 18 years and younger to join Jordan in raising awareness for these types of abuse by putting their voice on camera and takling the challenge of teen violence through the creation of a PSA.  Challenge participants have the opportunity to earn money and hours will be credited towards the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

NOTE FROM LEE FOX:  Adults interested in investing a deeper understanding of this subject are encouraged to read “Tornado Warning” by Elin Stebbins Waldal, whose book portrays the effect that living through an abusive relationship can have.


Posted via email from KooDooZ

Friday, September 9, 2011


Oh, the dichotomy of Generation Z (today’s teen, tween and kid)! Described as both selfish and altruistic, GenZs live in a world they believe is doomed, but they are also ecstatic about the possibility of their own impact. Burdened by the enormity of climate change, many are emerging as eco-warriors.

With nearly one-in-five mammal, reptile, bird or amphibian species facing extinction, it’s perhaps not surprising that the relationship today’s youth have with animals is altering from anthropocentrism – the tendency for humans to regard themselves as the central and most significant beings in the universe – to stewardship.

But to sociologists, who have proven that the loss of contact with nature … is nature’s loss, the biggest pardox is whether “natural world” experiences will remain the primary driver of biocentrism – the belief that nature does not exist to be consumed by mankind – or whether “virtual & online world” experiences will also prove their merit in cultivating GenZ’s compassion for animals and concern for the world?

Meet 9 year old Carter Ries and his 8 year old sister, Olivia. This brother and sister team are the founders of OMG, a non-profit dedicated to helping all endangered species survive at least One More Generation… and beyond.

Inspired to make a difference after learning that animals are dying because “we keep taking their land and polluting their environment,” explains Carter,the duo turned to the internet to learn what they could do to help. With each new devastating fact, the kids kept saying “Oh My Gosh, oh my gosh…” or OMG.

KooDooZ youth advisory board member, Danielle Beauregard, interviewed Carter and Olivia to learn how they are saving the lives of species half way around the world. Listen to the podcast:


 A Harvard Education Letter, entitled “The Greening of Environmental Education” stated the number-one rule for teaching young elementary school students about the environment is to veer away from the darker side of the equation.(NOTE: This is in contradiction to Carter and Olivia’s world view)

When every other facet in a child’s life paints such a bleak picture about global warming, deforestation, endangered species and access to clean water, how much should schools really “soften the blow”?


If marketers are going to float polar bears on a shrinking iceberg to advertise their product, educators should not have any trepidation about having the same green conversations in their classrooms, with school-aged kids.

In particular, environmental educators should focus on the period from 2nd to 5th grades.  For it is this age group that is most significantly characterized by a major increase in emotional concern and affection for animals. Any time later, and we’re hitting them too late. Research suggests attitudes toward wildlife have been firmly established by the 8th grade.


Pyschologists believe that giving children scary environmental facts will serve to (i) make problems seem unsolvable; (ii) label individual action as unimportant; and (iii) convey an overall sense of hopelessness and helplessness to children.

How true is this in light of GenZ’s proven tenacity as eco-warriors? Consider the impact these young social entrepreneurs have had:

  1. Ben Workinger, at the age of 8 started a way station for Monarch Butterflies at his school
  2. Colin Carlson, at the age of 11 created a multi-pronged project (with a website) to educate people in his community about global warming
  3. Nathan Moos, at the age of 11 recruited eighteen other 6th graders to help him get parents to adopt car idling restrictions as a way to prevent air pollution
  4. Alec Loorz, at the age of 12, organized Kids-vs-Global-Warming action teams who pledged to green their schools and get involved in local environmental projects
  5. Alexander Lin, at the of 12 learned that consumer electronics and heavy metals that end up in the landfill will irreversibly poison groundwater and promoted legislation to ban the dumping of e-waste.


Not unlike the eco-warriors before them, Carter and Olivia have had measurable impact. Since building OMG from the ground up in their hometown in Fayetteville, Georgia, Carter and Olivia have involved their friends, family, and members of their community in their cause.

During the Gulf oil spill crisis, the siblings collected supplies to assist in the rehabilitation of animals affected by the spill. After 4 months of planning and collection, the OMG founders took a 1,248 (round) trip journey to the Gulf, on Olivia’s birthday. “When we saw the first report on CNN showing the oiled sea turtles and birds, it hurt our hearts and we knew we had to help,” Carter explained. “Once we arrived and saw all the sick sea turtles and how the veterinarians and volunteers were working so hard, it was obvious that we didn’t just collect soap and rags and other stuff… we were actually saving sea turtles,” Olivia added.

Olivia and Carter have shown in more ways than one that they are a force to be reckoned with, for example, they have:

  1. Met with the Deputy District Director for Congressman Lynn Westmoreland to urge the consideration of co-sponsoring H.R.-14, the Ocean Acidification Act.
  2. Raised money to help support the Ann van Dyk Cheeta Rescue in South Africa, which has spent the last 40-years tirelessly working towards helping keep CheetahAfrican Wild DogBrown HyenaServalSuni Antelope andRiverine Rabbits from becoming extinct
  3. Written to their local Governor’s office to help:
    • stop Rattlesnake Roundups stopped and legislation amended to allow venomous snakes to be protected under local law
    • help the Gopher Tortoises that are being senselessly killed via the snake-hunter gassings during the Roundups
  4. Spoken with the local Southeastern Reptile Rescue organization about joining forces to help spread the word about how vital snakes and other misunderstood reptiles are to the eco system
  5. Coordinated the first annual OMG Day at their school which offered:
    • educational material from a local nature center to heighten awareness around the pressing issue of endangered species
    • hands-on opportunities to interact with animals threatened with extinction and learn why they are so important to the eco-system


For generation Z, interacting online is “second nature” and is as important as interacting in the “real world.” The fact is, the world wide web gives people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to become more “worldly” and savvy to the plight of all living things. Animals that we can’t even find at our local zoo can be discovered online, and when coupled with interactive multimedia components, these far-away creatures can come to life.

Personally, I believe learning about “abstract concepts,” such as the loss of rainforests and endangered species, should happen in conjunction with a child’s use of media and digital assets.

Generation Z demands transparency and meaningful engagement. If our environmental education sugar-coats the world’s biggest and most public concerns, we will further put our schools in risk of staying relevant.

If we are to “save the world,” we should embrace the mission of teaching kids how to be active citizens and stewards of the environment, by giving them as many hands-on and peer-to-peer learning opportunities as possible, both online and real-world.


Posted via email from KooDooZ