Start Strong Shares Ideas to Stop Dating Violence Before it Starts

Sometimes the solution to a very big problem is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. That’s the theory behind Start Strong, a national program designed to defeat teen-dating violence by helping middle-school kids learn how to avoid unhealthy relationships. “I didn’t even know I was in an abusive relationship,” says Nija Nelson, who says her former boyfriend yelled at her and called her names. “Most teens don’t recognize the other kinds of abuse besides physical abuse. Start Strong helped me realize that the relationship I was in was unhealthy.”

Now, Nija is an Atlanta high school senior and a Start Strong “Youth Leader” who talks to middle school kids about teen-dating violence.

Non-Profit Seeks New Director

Here’s a plum job for someone who’s into juvenile justice reform:

Reclaiming Futures, a non-profit that focuses on helping kids involved with drugs, alcohol and crime, is looking for a new national director. Started by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Reclaiming Futures uses a 6-step model that brings judges, probation officers, substance abuse treatment professionals and community members together to help kids in need. Some of the job responsibilities include:

Create a strategic plan for policy, programming, communications, operations and budgets. Track and measure the performance of Reclaiming Futures sites
Perform site visits, develop funding opportunities, attend meetings and make conference presentations
Network, coordinate and promote activities with other national organizations and other interested parties

This position pays $105,000 – $120,000, depending on experience and you’d have to move to Portland, OR. To download the application, click here.

Normer Adams: Street Workers Prevent Violence

Research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that street outreach workers can be an effective strategy to reach and engage youth with the goal of violence prevention and intervention. Street workers are typically members of the community who intervene to prevent conflict and retaliation, and in some programs, also connect individuals with needed services, such as housing and job training. The study evaluated the program run by the United Teen Equality Center in Lowell, Mass., a city of 105,167 residents north of Boston.  This program used  a process of peacemaking, which typically involves engaging gang leaders in conflict mediation, convening peace circles, participating in peace summits, and organizing a peace council. The results are published in the Fall 2010 issue of Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action. For more information about the study click here


Normer Adams is Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children and a writer, speaker and consultant on family and social issues such as advocacy, lobbying, and child welfare policy. Learn more at

Forum: How Trauma Effects Kids

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has created an online forum called Chronic Trauma and the Teen Brain for people who work with kids who’ve experienced trauma:

“Through this forum, we hope to bring together experts in different adolescent-serving systems and disciplines to discuss emerging research, current experiences, and innovative strategies and models.” We previously mentioned this forum, but it will now stay open until August 31st. Here’s what some people have had to say so far:
I am a high school social worker. Lets not derail this conversation because we are focusing on “labeling” students. The best place to begin to screen and intervene is in school because most trauma symptoms begin to show themselves, initially, in the classroom through behaviors and attitudes.

Wanted: Insights on Trauma and Delinquency

Exposure to trauma, delinquency and school failure are related, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).  More than sixty percent of children have witnessed violence and 46.3 percent have experienced physical assault.

If you have direct experience with kids who’ve gone through traumatic experiences, you may want to join the online forum called “Chronic Trauma and the Teen Brain”. Benjamin Chambers writes that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is collecting information and data.  If you can answer the following question, this forum is for you:

“Where are there opportunities within these adolescent systems to better identify, assess and intervene to support the needs and healthy development of young people affected by chronic trauma?”

For more information:

Chronic Trauma and the Teen Brain – An Online Forum

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation