Teens and youth advocates shined a light on an important but under-discussed issue facing young people – teen dating violence and prevention – at a Feb. 15 town hall meeting at Oakland City Hall.
The session, called “Teens Acknowledging their Strength and Power” was organized by A Safe Place, an Oakland-based agency, to commemorate National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month and hosted by Council Member Desley Brooks and the City of Oakland.
Several speakers emphasized faith as a crucial factor that allowed them to survive some of the most horrific crises.
“Don’t ever discredit the power of God,” said 25-year- old Kareem Marshall Sasir, whose battered mother was discovered stuffed in a suitcase floating in San Francisco Bay in May 2010.
A panel of speakers included spoken word artist Jazz, journalist Tasion Kwamilele and psychologist Dr. Arthur L. Hall.
Jazz urged youth to find their focus and purpose, build self-esteem and take pride in their heritage as part of the global African Diaspora.
“Don’t believe all the negative hype you hear about Black people,” she said.
Kwamilele urged people to remember that even perpetrators require services because they, too, were often victimized as children.
Carolyn Russell, executive director of A Safe Place, talked about the expansion of the agency’s services to male victims of violence.
“More than 63 percent of prisoners were incarcerated for hurting a male who was hurting their own mother, and over 50 percent of Oakland high school students say they have experienced teen dating violence,” said Russell.
Regina Rimando and Darlene Cooper, A Safe Place teen program leaders, presented i-Pods to winners of the agency’s poster contest.
The first –place winner was Shawn Robinson of Lincoln High School, who created a “Love Never Hurts” poster of a broken heart with chained hands breaking free.
The second-place winner was Diana Jauregui of Oakland Unity High School. “I wanted my poster to show youth and the power they have to break the negative cycles in their lives,” she said.
For more information on A Safe Place, go to www.asafeplacedvs.org