As we wrap up our summer of interning in the Office of the Vice President, one highlight of our experience that really stands out was helping with the launch of the Vice President’s Public Service Announcement (PSA) that speaks out against dating violence.
In the PSA, President Obama, Vice President Biden, David Beckham, Jeremy Lin, Evan Longoria, Eli Manning, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Torre, and Andy Katz ask all men to step up, speak out, and help end the violence. The PSA is part of the 1 is 2 Many campaign the Vice President started last year, which seeks to raise awareness and end violence against women.
Advocates and athletes came to the White House to join the Vice President for the launch event on June 21. Many young people in the audience that day enthusiastically welcomed the PSA’s message. “I am so glad that there is a 1 is 2 Many campaign because I learned at the event that despite the decrease of domestic violence, teenage domestic violence is on the rise,” said Amber, 16, an advocate from Girls, Inc. who attended the announcement. We were so inspired by all of the young advocates joining with the 1 is 2 Many campaign that we decided the Vice President’s Office should hear their feedback on this important issue.
We caught up with some of the young athletes and advocates who attended the launch to get their reactions to the PSA. First, we asked what it meant to them to see renowned athletes speak out against domestic violence. Will, a college basketball player, said “It's important to see men that we look up to speaking out against dating violence because the admiration and respect that we have for them never fades as we get older. We try to emulate their style of play on their respective sports, and now we can emulate their sets of values and morals as they pertain to violence against women.”
Some of the people we talked to had a personal connection to the PSA. Amanda said “dating violence is very common in college and since it has happened to my roommate, I have become much more aware of how serious it is.” And Kory said that after finding out that his younger sister had been abused by her boyfriend, “I never want to see anything like that happen to again to her, or anyone I care about. It takes young people who have experienced this to step up and try to put a stop to it.”
The PSA takes a step toward reshaping cultural views about what it means to be a man. Amanda observed that “There is so much violence in the media giving the message to boys that they have to be violent to show they are manly and with these men who are truly successful in life in what boys see as a manly profession it can help give a more positive message and prevent as much violence as possible. And Phillip from the Red Flag campaign said that “Standing up against dating violence doesn’t make you less masculine, it actually makes you more masculine to stand up to it, and if we all do, we could possibly eradicate it.”
Phillip went on to tell us about the connection between his advocacy work and the 1 is 2 Many campaign. He said that the PSA “let me know that I was definitely not alone in my efforts with the Red Flag Campaign. The Red Flag Campaign and the 1 is 2 Many campaign really go hand in hand.” He explained that the event “motivated me to do more. It influenced me to do more and incorporate 1 is 2 Many in the Red Flag movement.” The young people we talked to left the event motivated to take action. Robert, another advocate with the Red Flag campaign, said “My peers and I need to be proactive. We need to be ready to say something, and then follow through with our beliefs.” And Will said “Unfortunately, we all know a female friend or family member who may not be receiving the respect that they deserve in their relationships, or a male that may engage in actions that we flat out do not agree with. It is up to us to take that courageous step that Vice President Biden spoke of, and to speak up.”
As students ourselves, we are so glad that the White House is staking a stand on this important issue that affects so many of our friends and peers. We were thrilled to take part in the campaign’s efforts, and we look forward to seeing what Vice President Biden and 1 is 2 Many do next.
Thank you to all of the young advocates and athletes for attending the launch and sharing their insights!
Grace O'Malley and Emily Rock served as 2012 summer interns in the Office of the Vice President.