Youth and Violence

Columbine. Virginia Tech. École Polytechnique. Utøya Island, Norway. No one ever thinks it will happen to them.

As the headlines fade, schools that have experienced extreme violence are left to pick up the pieces. No one really knows what happens to them, how the survivors continue to survive, how the losses are dealt with. An international conference in Montreal, site of three school shootings in 17 years, will examine the root causes of such violence and explore the solutions that education might provide.

Listen to James Gilligan on the shift from punishment to prevention, to Lt. Col. David Grossman on the effects of video gaming, to bullying expert Barbara Coloroso on the benefits of engaging the bystander, and to Jerzy Nowak, founding director of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention at Virginia Tech, established in the wake of the rampage that took the life of his wife and 32 others.

Speakers from a host of countries will lead workshops on the kind of bullying that led to the murder of teenager Reena Virk at the hands of her mostly female peers and the alarming increase in cyberbullying, on post-traumatic stress, the transformation of violent school cultures, and campus safety, to name just a few of the many critical issues being addressed at the Youth and Violence: the Role of Education / Inspiring Solutions conference in Montreal.

This conference will have something for every counselor, college and university professor, administrator and campus security chief. It’s a unique opportunity you can’t afford to miss. Be in Montreal between September 29 and October 1, 2011.

Youth and Violence: the Role of Education / Inspiring Solutions

September 29 to October 1, 2011

Montreal, Quebec, Canada




For more information


Please forward this message to others in your institution who may find this of interest.

Mary Hlywa and Pat Romano

Dawson College/ACCC 2011 Conference Coordinators

Youth and Violence: the Role of Education – Inspiring Solutions

September 29-October 1, 2011

514-931-8731 (ext 5090 or 1461)

David the Piano Player

The Truth Aid film David the Piano Player commemorates the 30th anniversary of HIV/AIDS. June 5, 1981 the Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report(MMWR) published the first cases of AIDS in America. David Foxworth Jenkins was among the first diagnosed cases of HIV in the U.S. and he spent the last six months of his life making a documentary about the lessons he learned in 2008.

David’s story teaches volumes about dignity and how to heal from trauma. This project was funded by a pilot grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.



Trauma & HIV/AIDS

Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and intimate partner violence are common causes of trauma and violence in women’s lives. Below are important statistics about violence and trauma and its connection to HIV/AIDS. In comparison to the general population, people living with HIV tend to report experiencing more traumatic life events, particularly those that are violent & abusive.

Intimate Partner Violence

Most of the HIV that is transmitted worldwide occurs through intimate relationships.   Policies that educate and increase health literacy via best prevention practices to youth before they become sexually active are necessary to build “sexual self esteem.” It is when girls are confident in their decisions to have sex only when they’re ready that they can delay sex and prevent HIV or unwanted pregnancies.  On the other hand, boys can also benefit from this type of education prior to their first sexual experience and build their sexual self esteem – which can also further delay sex or prevent HIV and pregnancy/becoming a father before they are ready. (1)

There are three main ways violence is thought to increase a woman’s risk for HIV infections:

  1. Through forced sexual intercourse with an infected partner
  2. By limiting women’s ability to negotiate condom use
  3. By establishing a pattern of sexual risk taking among individuals assaulted in childhood and adolescence


Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse can affect a person’s risk of getting HIV in many ways. Besides the obvious risk of getting the virus through forced sex, sexual abuse affects the way that you deal with sex, how you feel about your body, and your perceptions of self-worth. For some, this makes them not want to deal with sex at all; others may look to relationships to give them back what had been stolen from them.

Violence perpetrated against women is linked to risks for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection. Studies conducted in the US show that women in violent and abusive relationships are less likely to use condoms, more likely to incur abuse as a result of requesting condoms and more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than women who have not been in violent relationships,

Childhood Sexual Abuse
Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) is defined as sexual activity before the age of 18 that may or may not involve force, and ranges from unwanted touch to sexual penetration with an object and/or sexual intercourse. The experience of CSA has lifetime consequences. CSA has been linked to psychiatric disorder and substance use with the latter often being used as a coping mechanism. Women under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol are less likely to use barrier protection. Histories of sexual violence affect decisions women make related to risks for HIV and STIs such as choice of partners and the ability to negotiate condom use with partners.

In a national study with data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Multisite HIV Prevention Trial, it was found that men with a history of unwanted sexual activity during childhood were significantly more likely than men without such history to report risky sexual behaviors, alcohol problems and drug use. In this study, men who reported unwanted sexual activity during childhood were 6.79 times as likely as other men to report unwanted sexual activity since age 13.11 CSA is also linked with risky HIV sex behaviors among women, including unprotected sexual intercourse, sex with multiple partners, trading sex, and adult sexual revictimization. (12)


  • 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused by age 18. (5)
  • The National Institute of Justice estimates one million new cases of sexual assault and rape each year in the USA alone. A significant percentage of these cases are adolescent & child victims. (2)
  • Rates of CSA in Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) have been estimated to be higher than in the rest of the population, with some researchers estimating that 37% of all MSM have experienced CSA. (3)
  • 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12;  29% are age 12-17; 44% are under age 18;  80% are under age 30. (6)
  • In the United States, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives. (7)
  • Between 88 percent and 94 percent of intimate partner violence victims seek medical attention for injuries to the head and neck, and 56 percent of those have facial fractures. (8)
  • Women victims of gender-based violence have an increased risk of HIV and being HIV positive is also a risk factor for violence against women. (9)

Personal Reflections

“I was raped by an uncle when I was only 12 years old. What did I know about sex at that age? I was too scared to tell anyone, so I just kept it inside and hoped that it would just disappear. The only thing that disappeared was my sense of self. I went through several relationships where, whenever we had sex, it was like I was watching someone else doing it. Such a strange feeling. Then I finally told some of my close girlfriends about it, and found out that many of them had been raped or had unwanted sex at some point in their lives. Through them, I learned how to take back my sexuality. Now I take control. It’s about time!”
–Kathlyn, 56

“He didn’t hit me until after I got pregnant. I wanted to leave, but how could I with a baby? And then he began drinking once he started having problems at work. I was trying to be understanding—I know it’s hard for a man when he can’t find work. The worst part is… sometimes he forces me to have sex with him when he can barely stand ‘cause he’s so drunk. I wish I could leave, but he said he’d kill me if I did. It’s amazing what you learn to deal with. But don’t worry, I’ll be alright. I’ll be fine.”

— Maria, 37



2. Assessment of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Clinical Measures, Evaluation, and Treatment Mark V. Sapp
3. April 10, 2009
4.  Arosarena et al. Maxillofacial Injuries and Violence Against Women. Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, 2009; website:
5.  Duke University; Women’s Center; Sexual Assault Support Services
6.  U.S. Dept of Justice, 2004. National Crime Victimization Survey
7.  CDC: Understanding Sexual Violence; 2007
8.  Arosarena et al. Maxillofacial Injuries and Violence Against Women. Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, 2009;
9.  Gender Based Violence & HIV/AIDS
10.  (Kalichman et al., 1998; Wingood & DiClemenete, 1997)
12.  A meta-analysis of the relationship of child sexual abuse to HIV risk behavior among women; Arriola, Louden, Doldren, Fortenberry; 2005




Let’s talk about HIV, Violence and Trauma

Please attend the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition’s upcoming quarterly meeting on “Young Women of Color, Violence, Abuse, Trauma and the HIV Link”. The YWCHAC is Truth Aid’s oldest community partnership and we love them!

Panelists include:Lynn Roberts, PhD, Hunter College of CUNY Urban Public Health Program, Mehret Mandefro, MD, MSc, Managing Editor,, Kirsten deFur, NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic ViolenceMeghan Oconner, MPH, NYC Alliance Against Sexual AssaultDarlene Torres, NYC Anti-violence Project

Details for the event are:


Friday, February 6, 2008 from 10am to 2pm


Planned Parenthood Federation of America

434 West 33rd St, Penthouse

Between 9th and 10ave

Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

To register visit: