Ending Teenage Violence

Alive & Free is a very good program from teens. The goal is to eliminate violence from their lives and teach them to respect themselves and others. I have been working with Alive & Free for 17 years and find it very powerful with teens. I am also on the National Board of Alive & Free and Dr. Joseph Marshall is the founder. Below is how Dr. Marshall explains the program.

Alive & Free believes that every young person has the potential to succeed. Bright futures are possible for all of our youth, but it’s easy to get off-track. Sadly, violence – which spreads like a disease in our communities – locks up that potential and leaves young people incarcerated or worse–dead.

At the heart of the Alive & Free Prescription is the notion that violence is a social disease with an explicit treatment process. Like a disease, it is transmitted by the germs of bad information, bad instruction, bad advice, and bad examples that to young people appear to be good. Youth are exposed to these “germs” via their families, peers and neighborhoods; through music, television, video games and movies. The disease appears as techniques for survival known as “game” or “street smarts” when in fact the opposite is true. Infected youth believe they are getting information to live by when in fact they are getting information to die by.

The “Alive & Free Prescription” works to change beliefs, attitudes, values and actions that promote violence. Alive & Free identifies and addresses the symptomatic thinking that puts young people at risk (Commandments of Violence), the actions that put young people at risk for violence (Risk Factors), the feelings and emotions that contribute to violent behavior (Emotional Residue of Anger, Fear, and Pain), and the Rules for Living that promote positive lifestyle choices. Young people who learn the Alive & Free prescription also have a new set of life skills to make choices that help them go to college, succeed in life, and give back to their communities.

The Prescription to End Violence Step 1

The Prescription Step 1: Deprogram Thinking
We have identified a specific set of rules or ‘commandments’ that lead to violence. These Commandments of Violence are:

Thou shalt not snitch
Thou shalt handle thy business
Thou shalt do why thy gotta do
Thou shalt get girls / a man
Thou shalt not be no punk
Thou shalt get thy respect
Thou shalt get thy money on
Thou shalt put in work
Thou shalt carry a gun for protection
Thou shalt recruit
Thou shalt be down for thy set/hood/crew
Thou shalt be down for thy homies right or wrong
The Prescription to End Violence Step 2

The Prescription Step 2: Eliminate Risk Factors
There are 9 Risk Factors which we have identified as being associated with violent behavior. Like the risk factors associated with heart disease, there is one risk factor over which the individual may have no control (unhealthy family and/or environment). We call this one a “given.” Although this risk factor is listed, we do not dwell on it. Instead, we choose to work on the risk factors over which we have control. By eliminating the ones within our control, we indirectly impact the one that is outside of our control. Risk factors for becoming infected the disease of violence are: the use of destructive language, use of guns, drugs and/or alcohol, negative view of women, an “I don’t care” attitude, fear-based relationships (fearships), and material values over people.

The Prescription to End Violence Step 3

The Prescription Step 3: Deal with Emotional Residue
Dealing with Emotional Residue (ANGER-FEAR-PAIN) is, perhaps, the most delicate step in the process for it touches on individual sensitivities. It is, however, an essential step in the process since one’s behavior manifests his/her method of dealing with these sensitive emotions.

Techniques/Process of Dealing with Anger-Fear-Pain

Show them the mirror
Provide examples through the use of media, film, and literature
Facilitate active discussion and listening to one another
Personal testimony
Discussion / Ask questions, such as:
What makes you angry?
What goes on inside of you when you get angry?
What do you do when you get angry?
Written expression
Journal entries for self-reflection
The Prescription to End Violence Step 4

The Prescription Step 4: Introduce New Mindset
Rule #1 is that there is nothing more valuable than an individual’s life. This rule establishes an agreement that all human lives are of utmost value, and we all want to stay alive and free. The next rule states that a friend will never lead you to danger. True friends look out for our best interests, and it is best to let go of unhealthy friendships in order to look out for your own well-being. Third, change begins with the individual. If you want things to change, you have to start with yourself first. You have a personal responsibility to change your own circumstances. Lastly, respect comes from within. If you respect yourself, no one can disrespect you…. And if no one can disrespect you, then you retain your power over yourself. Take the Prescription and become immune to the disease of violence.

– See more at: http://stayaliveandfree.org/about/the-prescription-to-end-violence-and-change-lives/?utm_content=bufferd74b7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.LNrfhP6N.dpuf

Dr. Michael Rubino has been working with teens to help improve their lives and futures for over 18 years. For more information about Dr. Rubino’s work visit http://www.rcs-ca.com

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