As part of our work to advance a community-wide prevention agenda, C4DP has recently launched a new initiative to more deeply engage men and boys as allies. Thanks to new state funding, over the next 2 years, C4DP will more fully engage young men and boys in dating violence prevention, integrating them front and center in project design and implementation. The project centers a marginalized population (Hispanic/Latino young men and boys) by providing leadership opportunities for modeling healthy masculinity and lifting up positive attributes of Latino culture as motivators for change. The project also institutionalizes domestic violence and teen dating violence prevention on high school campuses via domestic violence response policies. Ultimately, we seek to promote a shift in social norms and community response to dating and domestic violence in Marin.
To help move this initiative forward, Jonathan Deras was hired as the Boys and Young Men Educator. Jonathan is a military veteran whose family has benefited from some of C4DP’s many programs. Jonathan believed it was important to give back to an organization that assisted his family in the past. Thus, he began working as a volunteer at C4DP, which led to an internship where he developed a class addressing masculinity’s role in domestic violence. The project now has a curriculum in place which teaches the difference between healthy and unhealthy masculinity, while modeling nonviolent strength for young men and boys.
To evaluate its effectiveness, the initiative will look at measures such as number of participants and male allies, instances of dating abuse and domestic violence reported, and prevention activities and policies implemented for schools participating in the program. Additionally, the program will examine its ability to affect culture – looking specifically at changes in knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of students who are engaged. These metrics will allow C4DP to gauge where it should focus next in the efforts to enroll boys and young men in the cause.
Jonathan explains that this work is important because it is necessary, stating that C4DP “believes it is important for more men to get involved. Many times, it is boys and young men in the role of ‘abuser,’ and it comes from a misguided concept of masculinity. This behavior is a cultural trap. It starts to affect all of their relationships, intimate and otherwise.” He understands that prevention relies on having conversations on topics that are relevant to young people. With the new school year beginning, Jonathan’s focus now is on laying the groundwork for the program with a goal of getting as many students and schools allies involved as possible by the end of the upcoming school year. For more details on C4DP’s mobilizing efforts with young men and boys, visit www.c4dp. org/men-as-allies.