Anti-Valentine’s Day: A Celebration of Respect, Safety, and Friendship

Anti Valentines LogoThis year will mark my library’s 4th Annual Anti-Valentine’s Day celebration!

So why Anti-Valentine’s Day?

I’m not a fan of much tradition, so having a lovey-dovey Valentine’s day party isn’t really my style.  After talking to my teens, I found that it wasn’t really their ideal thing either.  So, my first year in my library, I proposed the Anti-Valentine’s Day party to my teens, hoping to spice things up.  3577_10100681013450867_659014485_n

In my research for other Anti-Valentine’s Day parties, however, I started coming up kind of short.  Most of these parties were geared towards adults.  Then, during one search where I was starting to really get discouraged and think that my great idea wasn’t going to work, I discovered that February is Teen Dating Domestic Violence Month, and that is where my ideas began to take off.

Teenage relationships are generally the same over the years, but now there’s a major difference: Social Media.  Back when most of us were teenagers and in our (often fleeting) relationships, nobody outside of your group of friends really knew the details of your breakup.  Nowadays, when someone breaks up, has an argument, or even sneezes too loud, the whole school knows it.  Thinking about that, I decided that what I really wanted to instill in my teens through this party was information on how to break up safely, how to recognize an unhealthy relationship, and how to not blast every bit of their relationship drama on social media.

So what does our party look like?  Well, over the years we’ve had everything from pizza to pinatas, but there are a few things that remain the same each year.  First, we always have an open discussion on relationships.  We talk about warning signs for domestic violence.  Does he embarrass you in front of his friends at school (or at the library)?  Does she go through your cellphone without your permission?  What should you do if  you witness a friend be shoved by their boyfriend/girlfriend at school?  These conversations are generally pretty casual, and I work hard to make sure that everyone feels safe enough to talk, or remind them that they can always come and talk to me afterwards or text me(I have a Google Voice number for them), if they need to.

Having one main craft doesn’t always work well for my teens, so instead, I let them make Breakup Kits filled with whichever of my craft options they’d like.  They can choose to write a “love letter” to their past or future selves, make an anti-valentine’s day card, or even create bad pickup lines.  This year, we’re going to try these heartbreakers.  For treats and entertainment, I provide candy, “Kiss Me Nots” (foods like Funyuns and Onion dip) or pizza, and I always do a playlist of breakup songs.

At the end of the day, I want them to have fun.  I want the party to be memorable, and something they’ll be looking forward to in the following year.  When you enjoy what you’re doing, you remember what you learn, and I want them to remember as much as they can about having safe, healthy, and respectful relationships.

Give it a try, and come let us know how it went.

Want to see some of my planning links?  Check out my Pinterest!

 

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