Advocacy Tips 101: How to Be an Anti-Abuse Campaigner
Do you know people who are being neglected or abused? When they open up to you and you listen, did you ever want to do something more to help?
If you’re answer is yes, then you’ve come to the right place.
Advocating against teen abuse and neglect isn’t easy, but given the right attitude and plan of action, it can be done.
1. You have to truly understand why you’re doing it.
Committing to a task that’s outside of school, without material reward or whatsoever— that’s the greatest challenge for advocates of any cause.
List down, preferably on paper, why you want to start your advocacy. Who do you want to reach and have an impact to? Do you want to help victims of sexual abuse? Cybercrime? Neglect?
In what ways do you want to make an impact? Do you want to let them know the different kinds of teen abuse? Do you want to refer them to self-help websites? It doesn’t have to be complicated. The simpler, the more you can visualize your goals. The more specific the goals, the better.
2. You can’t do it alone.
It’s incredible enough that you’d want to help fight for a cause. However, it’s very crucial to remember that victims of abuse and neglect are usually in a fragile situation that should be handled cautiously. Despite our good intentions to help, remember that the healing process of victims should be facilitated by professionals and experts who have more knowledge and practice, not by teens.
The reality is, you won’t be able to do it alone. If you do, it might not have a long-term impact, or you might just end up burning yourself out.
As young people, however, we play a key role in spreading awareness of abuse and neglect to our peers.
If you really want to make things happen, accepting the fact that you will need help is the first major step.
List down people and friends who you know are willing to help you. More importantly, list down people who know more about the advocacy and can do something about it, like a trusted teacher, a counselor, a parent or a professional. Tell them about your ideas and be open to suggestions. They might disagree with you on some things, but when you’re both aiming for the same cause, to help the same people, teamwork is the best way to go.
3. Be realistic.
Recognize that you have other priorities too, and so do your other members. Maybe you can start small, just to get a feel of how your community or schoolmates will respond towards the issue of abuse.
The best way for teens to help is by sharing knowledge and spreading awareness about neglect and abuse. It might seem cliché, and to a point it seems it wouldn’t make much of a difference. But when you’re a victim of abuse and neglect, especially if you’re keeping it all to yourself, it means a lot just to know someone understands and cares.
Here are a few suggestions to jumpstart your advocacy.
- Set-up a Facebook page, Twitter Account, Blog Page, etc. and refer students to it through your school’s website. Be careful what you post on your page! Since you’re not experts on the issue, make sure you post articles from reliable sources. Consulting an adviser before posting is highly crucial to make this succeed instead of fail.
- Set-up a bulletin board in school. Make sure it isn’t boring— make it interactive, like using relatable puns or movable sliders or whatever artsy ideas you can think of! Also make sure that you post reliable information by asking help from your adviser.
- Distribute flyers or post infographics. Again, make it teen-friendly. Focus less on words but more on impact. Make them want to learn more about the issue through visuals that capture the heart and encompass the main message of your advocacy.
- Create short videos that share knowledge about neglect and abuse in a creative and teen-friendly way. If you’re up to it, try writing related articles for your school paper.
- Hold a mini-seminar about the issue by inviting professionals to speak about the topic.
Consider as well how much money you need for the project and how you’re going to get that much. Will you be pooling funds as a team? Will you do some sort of mini-fundraising?
It’s also important to hold meetings with your teammates and create a good plan. Set simple schedules and deadlines, just to make sure you’re getting the job done.
You’d also have to coordinate with the school and ask permission to do your advocacy. It might take a few weeks to a few months, depending on how big your project is. The key is patience and determination, as well as a sense of optimism that things will work out well.
Document the process for proof— from your planning to the activity itself. Capitalize on technology by sharing albums on Facebook, posting on snapchat or Instagram, etc.
4. Get Going!
It will be challenging, I’ll give you that. When it does, keep yourself interested by focusing on how you can relate the issue to yourself and to victims of abuse, especially those you personally know and want to help.
WARNING: Potential Problems!
You might have a few misunderstandings with your teammates, or you might feel shy about promoting your advocacy. If a problem of the sort does happen, relax… take a deep breath. It’s normal to face problems in projects even when it’s for a good cause. This is also why it’s important to get a teacher or adviser for guidance. Remember, it’s better to take their advice because they certainly have more experience and qualifications to decide on such issues.
Refocus your energy and attention on what will make your advocacy push through. It may not be perfect or go exactly as planned, but as long as the main message is passed on, it will make a stand for sure.
5. Don’t Forget to Follow Through
I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. Doing these things won’t be so easy. The information won’t come from you, but you’ll be sharing it. That’s why you also have to read more about the topic to understand it better. If you’re starting on your research, this website is a rich library of resources on the matter!
Do your best to get to where you want to go. Once you do finish, whether it was a success during the first try or it still needs a lot of polishing, reward yourself and the team for doing your best!
Also, go over the things that could have been improved in your project. Maybe you could talk about it over pizza, or you could have a formal evaluation form. It’s a good idea to reflect on the project, so it can continue to be implemented and improved in the future.
Let’s Do It!
Teenage Abuse and Neglect is no simple cause to fight for. It’s complicated and challenging, but young people are in the best position to help spread awareness of the issue to their peers, especially to the victims of abuse themselves. Your ability to relate to your age group is something experts might have a hard time doing, that’s why you’re so important in the process!
Our most important role as young advocates of abuse is listening to victims and to encouraging them to speak up and ask for the help that they need. Without them doing so, even experts will have the toughest time making things work out.
Just remember that at the end of the day, nobody goes empty-handed, not even you— because you guys will have proven how far you’d go to campaign an important cause. You’ve not only learned more about neglect and abuse, but you’ve learned to appreciate the importance of sharing it with others.