Don't ask. Don't tell, right? Naw, let's reframe. Tell that. Heal from that.
As someone who has worked with youth since he was 17, I care deeply about educating and healing the whole child--not just the student but the full human who lives and loves inside and outside of my classroom. That said, can you finish these sentence starters?
Childhood Experience/Grown Folx Business
Growing up, I would hear my family say "such and such got touched as a kid." And everyone would momentarily look around in uncomfortable silence before someone else changed the subject. Or, I would curiously inquire and be met with a "stay in a child's place" or a "stay out grown folks business." Maybe that lack of language and or that palpable presence of discomfort prevented the commencement and continuation of certain conversations. Just because my family and I did not have the terminology, the timbre, the time, and or the tolerance to talk didn't mean "it" wasn't still happening to people close to us.
In the past, males have been left out of this national conversation involving sexual exploitation. There are so many narratives about boys and masculinity that turn travesties to tragedies.
The research and statistics focus more on girls, women, and female-identified folx. They say "women lie, men lie, but numbers don't." I just want to point out that the numbers sometimes do not tell the full story, especially in the context of our young males. As a former formal college researcher, I trust in the truth found between the stories and the stats, between the anecdotes and the analytics, between the qualitative and the quantitative (data). All I am saying is that I believe in "togetherness" -- in all senses of the word.
And no, the conversations I want to have are neither mutually exclusive, at the expense of the other sex nor limited to a gender binary. Considering our LGBTQ+ youth and youth of color, I want to have this conversation at the intersections of identity.
Call to Action
Please join me in a panel discussion about this unspoken type of violence facing our boys and young men outside of the classroom. In part one of a four-part series titled “Our Boys are Vulnerable, Too,” a virtual panel of youth advocates, social workers, and academics will be identifying the risk factors and silent victims of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. This online series intends to leverage a diverse panel with more than 50 years of combined professional experience to inform families of the latent and active threats facing young men, especially boys of color from low-income communities. This first panel will serve as a basis for the rest of the series, culminating in a collection of important resources and contacts for support. Audiences will walk away from this first panel with basic language, some preliminary data, and a general overview of this issue. Register here.
Sample Panel Questions
What public and private narratives about boys and masculinity has our society internalized, weaponized, and used to animate or justify problematic behaviors?
What is the role of poverty in relations to sexual exploitation and sex trafficking?
How is oppression experienced differently and treated based on intersectional identities and intersecting institutions?
What are the different types of data and how useful are the different data sets?
What are the different contexts, locations, and sites of sex exploitation, especially for boys?
This event is in collaboration with the Kerengende Foundation, a nonprofit that works with female survivors of sexual abuse and their families. Through educational workshops and community partnerships, the foundation empowers youth, families, and communities to better understand and prevent sexual abuse and trafficking.
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