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July | August 2016

Students Pledge To Do the “Write” Thing To End Violence

Do the write thing logo“I don’t remember everything that happened when I was 3, but I can recall one certain night. My mother was sprawled out in the middle of the floor and coated with blood, and my father had dozens of beer bottles. He was breaking the beer bottles and using the sharp parts of the broken glass to cut into her. He had a belt and was whacking her with it over and over. I will never forget that night. Every time I wake up, I see that memory in my head. It’s a never-ending nightmare.”

Amber M., an eighth grade student, shared those words at the annual Do the “Write” Thing Challenge ceremony held at the U.S. Supreme Court on July 25, 2016. The challenge, an initiative of the National Campaign to Stop Violence (NCSV), raises awareness about youth violence among middle school students and encourages them to commit to ending it. As part of the challenge, students write essays on their experiences with violence. Every year, national ambassadors—school finalists who submit the most meaningful entries—are honored in a recognition ceremony in Washington, DC.

At this year’s ceremony, Amber and other selected national ambassadors read their essays to the attendees and shared ideas about how they think violence within their communities can be stopped. “Love,” said Amber. “I believe that love can help stop violence. Love can fill the empty spaces inside you.”

“Kids need family,” said Malcolm P., a seventh grade student. “The more family members are involved in a young person’s life, the more that kid will be able to cope with problems and not use violence to solve problems.”

left quote When we say ‘it doesn’t affect me, I don’t want to get involved,’ then we are giving all the power to the bullies.right quote

—Carter P., eighth grade student and 2016 national ambassador for the Do the “Write” Thing challenge program

Carter P., an eighth grader diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, talked about his experiences with bullying and the embarrassment students can experience when they reach out for help, especially when bullies find out. “Create something anonymous so that people can say who is bullying them and when and where it is happening,” he said. “Teach the kids who aren’t being bullied … to stand up.”

The students also heard from Administrator Listenbee who congratulated them on their bravery and encouraged them to continue to take a stand against violence. “By choosing not to be silent, not to let violence win, not to cower in the face of what must be some of the most difficult tragedies you have endured, you are showing what it means to triumph over adversity,” Mr. Listenbee said.

He then outlined OJJDP’s ongoing efforts to address youth violence, which include organizing the Fifth National Summit on Preventing Youth Violence, and the Office’s plans to launch a public awareness campaign on the impact of children’s exposure to violence.

Following Mr. Listenbee’s address, Dennis Mondoro, OJJDP Senior Policy Advisor, spoke to the students. “It’s heartbreaking to see young people impacted by violence of such magnitude, but it’s also inspiring to see you come out with a strong resolve to do something about it,” he said. Mr. Mondoro reiterated OJJDP’s commitment to supporting the Do the “Write” Thing challenge and vowed to continue working tirelessly at OJJDP to end youth violence.


To read more about the National Campaign to Stop Violence and the Do the Write Thing Challenge, visit the NCSV website.