“The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change…” – Dr. Bruce Perry
In the violence prevention world, we put a lot of time and effort into educating young people and building individual skills. We love our lesson plans and curriculum, going into classrooms and facilitating groups. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely enjoy educating these young people, and knowing that the skills we are teaching can be directly applied to their lives and relationships.
However, this is not the whole picture of violence prevention. And in fact, our work is about more than just teaching lessons and building skills, what we are really trying to do in the spaces we work within is build rapport, trust and relationships. In some cases, a young person has a great family and support system, and I can be there to guide them to information and resources. In other cases, it is clear that a young person may have never had a safe, supportive adult in their life. And in those cases, I can play an even more important role. I can model a healthy adult/youth relationship built on trust and mutual respect. I can build them up and reassure them that they are valued, worthy and deserving of healthy and safe relationships even if that is something they have never seen or had before. I can keep showing up for them, even (or sometimes especially) if they mess up or make a mistake.
The relationships we make in our day-to-day lives matter. We can’t always know the long-term impacts we have on those around us, but we do know that having safe and supportive adults can help protect young people from violence. Is there a child in your life (niece, student, neighborhood kid) that may look to YOU as that safe, supportive adult?
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