By Amy Torchia, Children’s Advocacy Coordinator, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
My personal lesson this month has been about adolescent development and the responsibilities that adults have in the lives of teens.
At a training this week, I heard a scenario of a middle school relationship. The boy sent abusive accusing jealous texts to his girlfriend. The boy had lots of unhealthy relationships to watch and model, transition and trauma to contend with – not to mention the experience of racism and a culture dominated by male privilege telling him that he had the right to exert this kind of control over his partner. The girl was from a home with lots of healthy models but nonetheless a girl hearing from the larger world to be strong and stand up for herself and, at the same time, take care of her boyfriend’s needs and watch the length of her shorts. How confusing is all that to figure out? We adults want them both to succeed, be safe and happy, and learn about and engage in healthy relationships. But, they can’t do it without us. They are only 14.
We lost a teen boy in our community last night. He was swimming with friends in the pond, went under and didn’t resurface. We don’t know what happened yet. Most likely he was dehydrated or had a cramp. This beautiful young man’s life was cut short and his family, friends and community are devastated. He was only 17.
I have been watching his friends on facebook. They are sharing stories, expressing their love for him, their love for each other and offering to spend time together and talk. They have created a beautiful safe forum to grieve together and support one another. I have a worry, though. I have seen a few invitations to go out and get blasted together in honor of him and a few stories of reckless and unsafe behavior. In the wake of the death of a friend, Continue reading