Youth Leadership

The Expect Respect Youth Leadership programs educate and empower youth to have healthy relationships and to become role models, allies and peer educators. Youth leaders speak out about bullying, harassment and dating abuse through youth-generated projects, campaigns, theatre, art, music and poetry. See examples below and visit the SAFE, Expect Respect YouTube Channel for additional videos.

Youth Leadership Training

  • Up to 8 curriculum-based sessions on preventing bullying, cyber-bullying, sexual harassment, dating abuse, and promoting healthy relationships.
  • Provided in classrooms, clubs, or other youth settings.
  • Training followed by youth-led campaign utilizing art, video, and other media.

Summer Youth Leadership Academy

  • Collaboration with Travis County/City of Austin Work-based Learning Program.
  • Five week job readiness training and employment for youth ages 14 – 16.
  • Community media and arts projects to promote healthy relationships and safe communities.


For more information or to start a leadership group at your school, contact

Celebrate Youth Leadership

From 2008 – 2012 Austin teens participated in the national Start Strong Initiative. They used their passion and creative talent to engage their community in ending bullying and abuse in any relationship.

Create an Awareness Campaign

Set up an information table in your school cafeteria with fliers, info sheets, posters, etc. getting the word out about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Invite an inspirational speaker to your school or youth group, or a panel of youth to speak at a community meeting or school assembly. Ask them to speak about the problems teens face in relationships and how adults and youth can help.

Create a Public Service Announcement (PSA)

Get your friends together and create a short video to promote safe and healthy relationships. Talk to your school principal about showing it during the daily announcements. Check out some great PSA examples here:

Youth leaders at Akins High School raised awareness about sexting and cyberbullying and school district policies that ensure students' rights to have a safe learning environment.
The P.O.W.E.R. Girls focused on raising awareness on issues affecting teen girls including sexual harassment, dating violence, body image and empowerment.
Participants in the Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble created this humorous PSA to address jealousy and control in relationships.

Organize a Poster Contest

Work with your art teacher to organize a poster contest with positive messages about relationships. Hold a school-wide vote and display the winning posters in your school hallways, local shops and restaurants. Local businesses may be willing to donate prizes! Check out some of these great designs from past poster contests in Austin.

Design T-Shirts

What better way to get the word out than by wearing it? Create an eye-catching t-shirt design with a clear message about stopping relationship violence. Print the t-shirts and wear them to public events to spark conversation about the issues.

Create and Perform Skits

Theatre is a powerful way to get people thinking and talking about issues. Work with your drama teacher or a group of friends to create short scenes depicting relationship conflicts. Dramatize a solution to the problem, or invite the audience to get involved by offering their own suggestions. You don't need a theatre – perform in classrooms, community centers, churches, even outdoors! – anywhere you can gather an audience together.

Artists Cora and Ashlee, participants in the Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble, entered the minds of a teen dating violence victim and the person who abused her.

Curate an Art Show

Encourage your peers to use their artistic skills to inspire others to stop relationship violence! Talk to your art teacher about creating a gallery in the library to display teen-created artwork inspired by their personal experiences with relationships. Consider a traveling art show that could be set up at local middle and elementary schools, restaurants, businesses, and community centers.

Lamar Middle School students created masks and explored what they reveal and what they conceal about each individual. Their project was part of a school-wide effort to increase respect for diversity and create a safe and welcoming environment.

Host a Poetry Slam

Some of the most powerful poetry written today comes from teens just like you. Pull your peers together by hosting an event to highlight their poetic abilities. Make the central message about empowering the community to fight violence and abuse. All you need is a public space – and maybe some microphones!

Organize an Event for Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

This is a big one, but you can do it. Get together with teens, artists and leaders from your community to organize an event at your school or in another central location. Invite an inspirational speaker or a panel of youth to speak about preventing all forms of abuse and harassment in relationships.

The 2012 Riot-the-Silence 2 End Dating Violence event rallied the Austin community.