WHO WE ARE: A Look at Harbor House’s Teens for Social Change Group, Zero Tolerance

This month’s blog post is brought to you by members of our Zero Tolerance- Teens for Social Change Group. Enjoy!

Zero Tolerance is Harbor House’s Teens for Social Change Group. We meet bi-weekly on Monday nights at 5:00 PM. Our group consists of individuals ages 14 to 19 who are passionate about making our community a better place. We work hard to inform our peers of current social issues and work to create systems change within our communities. Zero Tolerance provides several different opportunities to get involved in your community.

How can someone get involved with Zero Tolerance and/or social change efforts while living in a pandemic? 

  1. Social media is a great resource but can have negative outcomes when used improperly. There are several social media platforms that are taking part in the “Put a finger down” trend. Zero Tolerance is taking part in this trend by putting a finger down for teen dating violence. 
  2. Research and sign the many petitions circling around on social media platforms. For example, in 2018 Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, along with several other Latina activists were helping to rally the Latina vote. These Latina activists created a petition called “She Se Puede” to empower, inspire, and inform Latinas not just in their lives and families, but in their communities and the voting booths. This is one of the many petitions floating around on social media that needs support. Signing petitions is one way you can jump in and make a difference, also getting your voice out there never hurts. See some current petitions that you can research and sign today. 
  3. Join us for our teen support group that will take place over Zoom. This will allow a safe place for shared opinions and open minds to listen to your voice. Joining groups, such as Zero Tolerance, is another way to get involved. 
  4. Watch our Facebook live Snack and Chat from earlier this month. Check out the video to learn about the work we do during this time, listen to questions asked by peers, and learn about teen dating violence.

The highest risk of dating violence occurs in our teenage years. One in three individuals ages 16 to 24 will experience teen dating violence, this is three times higher than the national average. 

What does teen dating violence look like during the pandemic? 

Dating violence comes in many forms, from physical to verbal. For example, when your partner gets mad at you because you do not want to put your health at risk. Due to the pandemic, most students are attending online schooling, making it harder to reach out to for help. Reflecting on the guidance counselor aspect, we see a great decrease in the overall knowledge of the students’ mental health and the chance for them to reach out for help. Ages 18 to 20 might find themselves quarantining with their significant other. There is nothing wrong with this, although since the whole world is more prone to isolation, the problem would be if a partner cuts off all connection to family, friends, work, etc. This might look like, taking away social media privileges or not allowing one to participate in a zoom meeting for work. 

Some other signs you may be in an unhealthy relationship: (from stopthehurt.org)

  • Your partner is very critical of you or the people you care about
  • Your partner becomes extremely jealous when you spend time with friends or talk to others
  • Your partner checks up on you constantly and wants to know what you are doing at all times
  • Your partner is consuming so much of your time you are no longer seeing your friends or doing what you enjoy anymore
  • Your partner uses guilt or pressures you to do what they want
  • Your partner has a bad temper and will yell or break things when they’re upset
  • Your partner blames you or others for their behavior when things do not go their way
  • Your partner makes all of the decisions in your relationship
  • Your partner intimidates or threatens to harm you or themselves
  • Something in your gut is telling you your partner’s behavior is not healthy

Harbor House’s “Healthy Tips for ending an Unhealthy Relationship” brochure lists healthy ways to end an unhealthy relationship if you find yourself in one. We also have done a past blog post talking specifically about how Teen Dating Violence Touches Youth in the Fox Valley. This post looks more in-depth to teen dating violence and Harbor House’s role in ending domestic abuse through prevention education.

How can I get help?

Social media can come with its downfalls, but also be a place for wonderful opportunities. Be mindful of when you are in need of a social media break. Check-in with yourself regularly to ensure you are using social media in a way that is healthy for you versus unhealthy. One way that can be healthy, is by using it to join support groups. Facebook has many groups and group chats where you can share your opinion or express how you feel while getting feedback from peers or facilitators from around the nation. Looking at websites such as Harbor House, Nami, or Loveisrespect.org to see what kind of teen support groups they offer could also be a good option. Some websites are interactive, such as loveisrespect.org, and have great facts, advice, and resources for dating violence. 

If you are looking to educate yourself on how to support someone you know who is in an abusive relationship, this is one of the topics you can learn about from loveisrespect.org. Harbor House also has a Friends and Family brochure that highlights what you can do to support a loved one experiencing abuse in your life.  We also address this topic in our Snack and Chat, so please check it out to learn more!

You can also look at websites like change.org that provide you with a list of petitions you can sign to get your voice out there!


If you are interested in learning more about joining us as a Zero Tolerance member, reach out to Emily Peterson, Harbor House’s Prevention Education Coordinator at emily.peterson@harborhousewi.org


A few of our favorite quotes:

“With everything going on in the world, self-care is a must to achieve greatness.”

“Make sure to keep yourself as your first priority! And remember that a good half of the art of living is resilience.” 

“You got this! Just take it one day at a time.” 

“Always remember to reflect amongst yourself to be able to better yourself and those around you.” 

“No matter how it might feel, you are not alone. It’s okay to ask for help”

“Not all wounds are visible.”