Young people speak out about violence on Instagram

Violence takes a variety of forms in the lives of young people every day. And how different individuals experience and articulate the violence they encounter can help outline ongoing struggles in our communities.

So what are the different ways that our youth face violence in their day-to-day lives? How can we offer them platforms to share their stories in an effort to better understand the impact of violence on young people and their community?

Providing that platform is a key part of the mission for the Off/Page Project, The Center for Investigative Reporting’s collaboration with Youth Speaks. The theme of redefining violence was at the core of Youth Speaks’ 17th annual Bringing the Noise for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. event in San Francisco on Monday.

For the event, the Off/Page Project launched an Instagram campaign encouraging youth to help reshape the conversation on violence. The more than 1,200 attendees at the newly reopened Nourse Auditorium were greeted with cards asking, “What hurts you or your community more than fists?”

Members of Youth Speaks’ youth advisory board, SPOKES, helped engage Bringing the Noise attendees with the prompt. Teenagers from across the Bay Area, in addition to young people not at the event, wrote and uploaded their responses using the hashtag #MLKSpokes and mentioning @OffPageProject.

The campaign, ongoing throughout this week, has garnered dozens of submissions so far, with themes including drugs, parenting, religious oppression and lack of education.

See what young people had to say about violence in their communities in the photos below. You can still add your own voice to the mix by uploading a photo to Instagram using the hashtag #MLKSpokes.

The focus on issues related to violence is a continuation of Off/Page’s 10 town halls held at the University of Chicago after the project launched in August at the international Brave New Voices festival.


We’ll continue this conversation on violence throughout the year, so stay tuned. For more on the Off/Page Project, visit our website, where you can watch our poem “Whispers From the Field,” a short film inspired by the Rape in the Fields investigation, and the trailer for our upcoming documentary “Good Kid, Broken City.” Stay up to date on the latest by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

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