The Start Strong Initiative aims to stop teen dating abuse before it starts. We focus on teaching 11-14 year olds teen dating violence prevention strategies and healthy relationships skills. By including Boston young people in every part of the programming, from planning to implementation, we are making sure that we are not just talking about teens. We are talking to them and with them and helping them become part of the solution to the very serious issue of teen dating violence.
The goal of preventing abuse in relationships is, certainly, laudable. But I am skeptical of the possibility that the Public Health Commission can make a difference, and I am also doubtful that this is where their resources should be going.
Part of their initiative is to get teens to select their music with an ear toward the healthiness or unhealthiness of its portrayal of relationships. To that end, they are comparing music to food, recommending an emphasis on consuming music with healthful ingredients. The following video explains it, but first let me note that I find this extremely creepy:
On the BPHC website, they have a recommended procedure. Teens should research their music, printing out the lyrics and comparing the relationship elements present to a list of positive elements and a list of negative elements. After scoring the songs relative to the elements on the lists, the listener (I suppose I should say prospective listener, since this is presumably done before actually listening to the song or watching the video) can sum the scores and get a song's overall relationship health score, which gives an indication as to whether the song is good to listen to. Just as we wouldn't want a diet full of nothing but empty calories, we wouldn't want a musical diet full of nothing but bad depictions of relationships Let me note here that I find this extremely creepy.
Yeah, that's gonna succeed...
Sarcasm aside, I should note that the Initiative's teen task force (my phraseology, not theirs) has scoured the Billboard Hot 100 and come up with their lists of the best and worst songs for 2009, 2010 and 2011. Let me note here that I find this extremely creepy
Now, if they really want to affect what songs teens listen to, what they have to do is identify the popular kids and pay them to listen exclusively to the "healthy" songs. Don't get me wrong, I'm not recommending they do such a thing. But that would have more chance of success than what they are currently recommending. Let me note here that I find this extremely creepy.
Did I mention that I find this extremely creepy?