We can teach this better

By: Amanda Rohdenburg, Educator and Advocate at Voices Against Violence in St. Albans, Vermont

A student sent me the poem One Color performed by Renee Schminkey and Neil Hilborn.  It’s remarkable for a lot of reasons, but it particularly resonates with me because of the spotlight the authors shine on education.

Schminkey and Hilborn outline what we—folks who influence young people—taught them.  If a kid is lucky enough to have comprehensive ex ed, or “How to Keep Your Fluids to Yourself,” in school, the class generally focuses on mechanics: The basic organ systems involved, a clinical description of heterosexual sex, how diseases are transferred, et cetera.

The problem, the poem goes, is in what we fail to teach.  We don’t spend time countering the myths that pervade the socially-accepted understanding of dating and sexual violence.  We don’t spend time talking about healthy relationships and love praxis.  There are a hundred conversations we avoid having with young people for all kinds of reasons.

My advice is: Quit it.  Put away your embarrassment, your discomfort, and your fear of saying the wrong thing.  These conversations are more important.  The kids in your life will benefit from being able to speak freely with you about the relationships they are having—if you are brave enough to let them.  February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and today is Time to Talk Day.

“We can teach this better.” Starting today.