So you’ve probably already heard that 1 in 3 teens is abused in a relationship. How do you get people to see that these statistics are more than just numbers? Here’s a way to leave a lasting impression they can see and feel. Sometimes you really just have to see it to believe it!
The point of this demonstration is to use the school community itself to represent the one in three statistic. How? Here are some ideas:
- Persuade a third of the students in your school to wear a special shirt, or anything really, to distinguish them from the rest of the students. Say, they all wear a bright blue shirt with the 1 in 3 statistic in large letters on the front and “is abused in a relationship” on the back. Now the community can visually grasp the issue as they pass through the halls or while they eat lunch. Think about it. If there are 1000 kids in your school, about 333 will be wearing this t-shirt. Who can miss that?
- Cover random lockers to match your stat. Perhaps for a few days one in three of the lockers can be randomly covered in a bright color – say red – to show how many students in the community can expect to experience dating abuse. The more dramatic, the larger the impact so be creative! Just be sure to get permission from the administration.
- Cover 1 in 3 cafeteria chairs with a bright color. No chairs in your lunchroom? How about 1 in 3 tables. And make sure you post something up to explain why – like large posters with more info on dating abuse and how to get help.
- Have 1 in 3 students paint the 1 in 3 stat on their faces. People will ask definitely start to ask what it means and what’s the purpose behind the campaign.
- How about scheduling an assembly where a third of the school is seated separately. This is also a great way to start a discussion about dating abuse, what counts as abuse and how to get help. Talk to administration to set this up.
Think your school isn’t going to go for any of these ideas? No worries. Here are some more subtle ideas that still relay your message:
- Have one in three students wear buttons with the 1 in 3 stat and a message like “Ask me what this means.” This will start a dialogue and that’s exactly what you want!
- Have one in three students carry a blue notebook (or whatever color you choose) across their chests with the 1 in 3 stat and the “ask me what this means” message. Again, this too will start talk.
Ask yourself: Is the way you intend to represent the statistic appropriate? The point of the campaign is to get people to understand the gravity of the problem, not to roil the waters with administration. So be sure to check with the powers that be (principals, teachers, etc.) to make sure they’re cool with your ideas.
Ask friends and classmates to help you out however possible. Maybe they can brainstorm on more cool ways to advertise the statistic. Have a talented buddy with great graphic design skills? Maybe she’ll help you create signs and posters. And you’ll need someone to post and hand those out, right? What about that writer friend? Ask him to write an article for the school and/or town paper. Have a fearless friend? Ask her to advertise the campaign on morning announcements.
If you’ve arranged a team of helpers for the day of the demonstration, remind them of their duties and objective. Plan where and when each person will distribute flyers and when. Just check with administration to be sure they’re okay with this.
Something to keep in mind: Yes, you want to show people the severity of the problem, but you also want to help reduce the numbers and support those at risk. With that in mind, make sure to have some helpful info on-hand like fact sheets that are easy to make and distribute. And don’t forget to include hotline numbers and other resources like the warning signs.
The Big Day
Be energetic and enthusiastic. And make sure you and your team are prepared to answer people’s questions. Do you have enough copies of your hand outs? What about those posters? Are they in prominent places around your school?
Get feedback from people. See what they thought and what impacted them the most. Check in with your participants and ask them to share what they experienced and observed.
Make sure to thank everyone involved and encourage them to provide continued support for causes such as this within and beyond the community.