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December 03. 2013 7:42PM

Media Power Youth targets preventing youth violence

CONCORD — A public-private partnership will attempt to prevent youth violence through education programs, organizers said Tuesday.

The group hopes to increase safety by helping parents, professionals and young people understand popular culture’s role in influencing behavior.

“We must work together to improve the safety of our communities and to reduce violence, especially among our young people,” Gov. Maggie Hassan said at a news conference Tuesday. “While not the only cause of violence, media is increasingly shaping the choices, attitudes, behaviors and learning abilities of children and teens.”

Under the initiative, Manchester-based Media Power Youth will offer free teacher training and curricula to elementary schools statewide with technical support from the state Department of Education. Selected communities will also receive middle and high school programs.

“Through this new research-based initiative, we will work to reduce the impact of media violence, guide children to make healthy choices and reduce the risk of violence and crime in our schools and communities,” Hassan said. “This initiative, along with our work to strengthen mental health services and to improve school safety, will add to New Hampshire’s ongoing efforts to make our communities safer and stronger.”

The Media Power Youth program involves representatives from criminal justice, law enforcement, education, health and human services, health care, foundations and business, as well as parents and community members.

“Media education can help reduce violent behavior in children,” said Media Power Youth Executive Director Rona Zlokower. “Thoughtful and positive media use is linked to greater empathy, healthier choices, more connectedness, better conflict-resolution skills and improved academic performance.”

She said media not only includes print, movies, TV, music and gaming, but social media as well.

“Media are active participants in our children’s lives, providing the tools for them to communicate with each other and the world around them,” she said. “Media education helps youth make the connection and distinction between media messages and impact and their own lives and actions.”

Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice said youth violence is preventable.

“Increasingly, there are reports in the news of children killing themselves, their peers and others. Violence, aggression, disrespect, bullying and cyber-bullying — all behaviors which can be destructive, even if they never reach the level of criminal activity — are also becoming more prevalent in children,” Rice said. “All too often, the influence of media is seen as a contributing factor.”

The program is funded through a grant from the Attorney General’s Office.
For information about the program, contact Media Power Youth at 222-1200 or sarah.shanahan@mediapoweryouth.org.

grayno@unionleader.com


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