Jaquil and Jalisa are two youth leaders for Start Strong Boston who teach middle schoolers to analyze the lyrics in pop songs and think about relationship health.
Time: 4:02 | Size: 3.7 MB
NCFY: Welcome to Youth Speak Out, a podcast series from the Family and Youth Services Bureau. Jaquil and Jalisa are two youth leaders for Start Strong Boston who coach 11- to 14-year-olds on healthy relationships and teen dating violence. They frame their conversations using pop music, asking their younger peers to analyze songs for messages about romantic and personal well-being. Jalisa says the discussions teach young people to think more critically.
JALISA: We do kind of put out a message that like when you’re listening to a song, like, actually listen to the lyrics and listen to like what the song’s saying. So you won’t be singing the song and not knowing what it says at all. We have a list of different songs in a packet. We will go over them in our group with the peer leaders first and analyze the song. Then we’ll do a top ten list of the most unhealthy songs that we analyze. Also, we do a healthy list too, to balance it out. In the community center groups, we usually talk about a topic first about teen dating violence. And then we took the music and we have the kids to see what themes are inside of the song and like see if the rate of being unhealthy is higher than the healthy.
NCFY: The two agree that pop music provides both negative and positive examples for young people’s relationships and that no genre sends purely good or bad messages.
JAQUIL: “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon Five caught the kids by surprise. Because all of them knew the song and they all like knew most of the words to it and were singing it. But when they read the lyrics, they realized how unhealthy the song was. They saw lyrics like "trying to control you" and different other sexual or disrespectful lyrics inside a song.
JALISA: “Sure Thing” by Miguel. It like talks about how the relationship’s good and like his love for her and support and how it’s like he wants to be good for her. And he wants her to be good for him. And all the positive things that a relationship like trust and loyalty and communication. These messages come from all genres of music.
JAQUIL: A lot of the time, rap or urban city music is being blamed for these negative messages. But it comes from every, every genre of music.
NCFY: Jaquil says there’s no more fitting way to get young people interested in issues of personal safety and relationship health.
JAQUIL: Seeing that we’re all affected by media, and especially how much teenagers are affected by pop culture, going through music and music videos, the kids can relate to what we’re talking about and they understand. And by the way we go through it, they fully get the message by the end on the effect of media on them.
We start early to make sure that the kids understand at that early of an age about the importance of healthy relationships and to understand teen dating before they really start getting into serious relationships. We want them to think about what a healthy relationship looks like and what an unhealthy relationship looks like. So when they go into these relationships, they’ll understand more for themselves if this relationship is healthy, if this relationship is unhealthy, and the various forms that relationships come in.
NCFY: For more information on promoting safety and healthy relationships among youth, visit the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, online at ncfy.acf.hhs.gov.
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