Students from across Ohio are being encouraged to share their experiences with violence and develop solutions to protect other kids in their communities as part of a collaboration with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and the Do the Write Thing program.
Yost is expanding the second year of the writing program beginning with middle-school students from the Lima City Schools in Allen County.
The Zanesville City Schools in Muskingum County has also signed on this year, with those two districts joining Clark County’s Springfield City School District, which last year became the first in Ohio to participate.
Students are being asked to write about the effects of violence, including bullying, on their lives.
“Providing children an outlet to discuss their fears and grief around these devastating incidents can provoke real change and better understanding,” Yost said. “I was blown away last year when I read stories of bravery and the ideas for change these students produced.”
A study released this year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that emergency room visits for attempted suicide increased 31% during the pandemic among children ages 12-17. Also, a U.S. Department of Justice study found that 60% of students had been directly or indirectly exposed to violence, exposures that caused long-term physical and mental harm and increased the likelihood that the students would continue the cycle of violence.
The Do the Write Thing program challenges students to express in story, poem, song or any other written form the violence they’ve faced, with an emphasis on exploring these key questions:
- How does violence affect your daily life?
- What are some of the causes of youth violence in your community?
- What can you as an individual do to reduce youth violence in your community?
Lima City Schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman said students need more opportunities like this to safely talk about violence and the effects it has had on them.
“The Lima City Schools is so thankful that the Attorney General’s Office offered us this wonderful opportunity to be part of the Do the Write Thing program,” she said. “I believe our students will grow and heal from this experience, and there will be much that we as adults can learn from their words.”
Do the Write Thing, organized by the National Campaign to Stop Violence, has been in existence for 26 years, with programs operating in 26 cities in 13 states. Since its inception, 2.5 million middle-school students have participated.
“We’ve all had to confront violence at some point in our lives, but what we don’t always do is talk about it,” Yost said. “This process will not only be cathartic but also help us all be better leaders.”