Teens to Discuss Role of Social Media in Ending Relationships
Most young people engage in multiple relationships throughout their teenage years, making mistakes and practicing their relationship skills. The ensuing breakups (at any age) can be messy, uncomfortable, and hurtful. And although “Dear John” letters may be a thing of the past, technology and social media - like texting, Facebook, and Twitter- allow messages to live on in cyberspace long after a relationship has ended.
In a nod to those new realities, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston Public Health Commission, in partnership with Northeastern University’s Urban Public Health program, are hosting the ``Break-Up Summit 2.0,’’ bringing together young people and youth-serving organizations to discuss, plan, and identify strategies to help teens engage in healthy relationship breakups. The summit, now in its second year, will take place from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 20th, at Northeastern University’s Curry Student Center Ballroom, 328 Huntington Avenue, Boston.
“Over and over again we remind ourselves that there are new realities facing our young people today,” Mayor Menino said. “This summit is a great way to come together and help them navigate the uncharted waters of social media by building skills that will protect them during these often challenging and awkward times of their lives.”
``The recent tragedy in Wayland is a stark reminder of the dangers of unhealthy and abusive relationships,’’ said Casey Corcoran, director of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Start Strong Initiative in the Division of Violence Prevention. ``As an organization that cares about the relationship health of young people, we have a responsibility to make sure that they have the skills not just to be in healthy relationships but also to end relationships in a safe and healthy way.’’
This year’s summit features several new workshops designed to provide practical advice to teens in the age of information sharing. Delete, Untag, Save: Creative Online Boundaries will explore protocols around changing your relationship status, untagging photos with the ex, and deleting the ex as a friend. I’m Just Not That Into You: How to Prepare for, Initiate, and Move On from a Break-Up will tackle questions such as, ``how do you break-up with someone and not break their heart?’’ It’s Complicated… will examine extenuating circumstance such as co-parenting issues that make a break-up more difficult. And G2g!: Leaving an abusive relationship will explore the unique challenges of leaving an abusive partner.
``It’s important for teens to come to the summit because a lot of teens don’t know how to break- up,’’ said Desire Guzman, a 16-year-old from Roxbury who attends English High School and plans to attend the summit as a Start Strong peer leader. ``They’ll learn how to break-up in a healthy way, which prevents a lot of drama and makes them safer.’’
Anderson Teneus, 18, of Mattapan and a senior at Brighton High School who will also attend the summit as a peer leader, said, ``It’s more powerful for teens to talk to other teens about break-ups. We understand each other and what we’re going through. And every teen is going to date, so every teen needs to know how to break-up in the right way.’’
Besides workshops, the summit will feature an interactive talk show titled ``TrueView: Break-Ups in Media’’ that will be presented by Start Strong peer leaders and will include a recounting of notable, unhealthy celebrity break-ups in the past few years. The Commission’s Start Strong Initiative also plans to distribute a series of tools to help teens build healthy relationship and develop conflict resolution skills. Those tools include:
• “Breaking-Up is Hard To Do: Ten Tips for Supporting Your Teen ” – A tool for adults to assess their skills around talking to/helping teens through break-ups
• “Healthy Relationship Quiz” – A tool to help teens determine if they are in a relationship that they want to stay in
• “U R Breaking Up” - A tool that uses the cell phone reception bars to help teens think about the best way to be heard/have maximum reception during a break-up
• "What Apps Will You Choose?” – A tool that uses common cell phone applications to help teens think about their technology choices when going through a break-up
The summit represents the latest effort by the Boston Public Health Commission’s Start Strong Initiative to build teens’ healthy relationship skills by teaching them how to recognize healthy relationships and how to know when it’s time to end a relationship. Last year, the Commission hosted its first break-up summit, which attracted more than 200 teens from Greater Boston.
Start Strong is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in collaboration with the Family Violence Prevention Fund. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Blue Shield of California Foundation are investing $18 million in 11 Start Strong communities across the country to identify and evaluate best practices in prevention to stop dating violence and abuse before it starts.
“Teen dating violence is a serious public health problem in this country,” said Kristin Schubert, program officer at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We are so pleased that Start Strong Boston is finding innovative ways to engage young people and teach them about healthy relationships and healthy breakups. This is an important step in making teens a part of the solution.”
For more information about Wednesday’s Break-Up Summit 2.0, call the Start Strong Initiative at 617-306-4949.
- BPHC -