Lock-in to lock out violence: CYC teens keep negativity out of social media

In November, CYC-Sidney Epstein Youth Center hosted its third annual Teen Lock-In as a part of the $2,500 Acting Up Award from the Chicago Community Trust.

The event, which ran from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., focused on how to properly use social media and prevent violence on various social media platforms.

 Teens at CYC-Sidney Epstein Youth Center engage in a discussion about keeping violence out of social media during a lock-in event.

Teens at CYC-Sidney Epstein Youth Center engage in a discussion about keeping violence out of social media during a lock-in event.

The 40 teens who joined the event participated in workshops that provided insight on relatable topics. For example, youth were able to analyze raps they created to identify the points of distress in the music. They also received CHILL training, an innovative program that teaches youth to recognize the biological effects of anger and confrontation and develop techniques to de-escalate conflicts.

Following the workshops, the teens were able to play games and enjoy snacks throughout the night.

Teen youth worker Melody Mills said the event theme was important because many youth are not taught how to properly use platforms like Facebook.

“We’ve had some of our young people in fights that started on Facebook,” Melody said. “‘He said, she said’ kind of things. We have to be the people who provide them with information about how to positively use social media.”

Center Director Roberta Douglas said the teens loved the event. The topics covered throughout the night introduced teens to new ideas about online interactions they have on a daily basis.

“They learned how to ignore when people want to fight and how to use Facebook in a more positive way,” Roberta said. “Teens who live in urban settings might be held more accountable for using Facebook in a responsible way. The legal challenges they might face [as a result of violence stemming from social media] might not be equal [to more affluent communities] because of their communities.”

Diante, a teen at the Center, said he appreciated it.

"The lock-in was fun,” Diante said. “I was able to meet new people. We worked as a team and showed sportsmanship when we played ball. It was all love. I can't wait until the next one."

As a follow-up to the lock-in and part of the Acting Up Award, CYC-Epstein is planning to host a town hall meeting in March for the North Lawndale community about violence in social media. Check back for updates about the event.