SEATTLE - The one group that could most benefit from organized summer
and after-school programs turns out to be the hardest to sell on the
idea. Accordingly, teens are the focus of a seminar in Seattle this week
on how to get them interested in activities to prevent bullying and
Many organizations offer teen programs but have a hard time getting kids
to sign up. Bryan Gordon suggests it might be because they're going
about it the wrong way. He works with students at Seattle's Cleveland
High School, and says posters and school assemblies just don't cut it
with today's tech-savvy young people.
"You've got to make the first, initial step in interacting with them and
getting them engaged; I don't think it is face-to-face, you know - it's
on Facebook or on mass text. And also, if it doesn't come from an
adult, if it comes from their peers, is a huge factor."
Bryan Gordon works with the "C:STOP" program, short for "Cleveland:
Students Take On Prevention." It's an anti-violence campaign, and Gordon
says they approach youth violence as a disease that's contagious.
"You think of violence as like an infection, so how do you treat an
infection? And you do that by, like, eliminating the bad stuff in your
body - and that could be relationships or attitudes, or drugs, alcohol -
any of that stuff that can bring the infection on and escalate it."
According to Gordon, there is a growing body of research that indicates
the transition from eighth to ninth grade is a critical time, when teens
are especially vulnerable to alienation and the pull of the gang
lifestyle, so he says programs would do well to reach out to younger
A recent study by the Wallace Foundation found teen programs do
best when they offer a large number of leadership opportunities, and
when they are held in locations other than a school. Anyone who offers a
youth program can attend the Youth Violence Prevention seminar, which
is Thursday, June 3, at the Cleveland High School auditorium in Seattle.
Register online at firstname.lastname@example.org.