Such a great perspective. I work in a juvenile detention center leading a theater workshop every week, and it IS a thin line between getting kids to open up and pushing them too far. I’ve found though, that most of the time, they really appreciate having someone trusting to listen and truly hear their story. It takes a lot of time to get to this place, though.
Here is the question that I am grappling with – how do we help youth share their voices in a way that serves them, rather than the adults encouraging them to do so?
Maybe part of the problem is that youth voice is not fully integrated into any aspect of child welfare work. So when anyone makes a concerted effort to included it, it comes off as that – a very serious effort to do something different. When I attend panels where youth are asked to share their stories, sometimes the questions are so leading or the adults are working to push a certain agenda, it is uncomfortable. I am often tasked with asking young people to participate in a myriad of speaking opportunities, so this is an issue that hits me very personally.
There is a fine line that we walk when we ask youth to share their story…
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