Reading Between the Lines: A Media Literacy Education in Domestic Violence

NO-MOREJan. 30, 2015 For the first time ever, the NFL will air a pitch perfect, poignant PSA by No against domestic violence that resonates on multiple levels and can be used as a tool to uncork important conversations even in the classroom. Scripted with powerful realism, brilliant visual execution and based on a compilation of authentic 911 calls, this amazing PSA is a powerful outreach tool and icebreaker for topics like teen dating violence, consent, student campus assault, bullying,…especially in a year when the World Health Organization has ranked adolescent health as a priority with a worldwide lens of concern focusing on youth ages 10-19!

As with any media literacy narrative, reading between the lines is what it’s all about…listen carefully to what’s being said, and not said.

Airing this Sunday with NFL support, it’s a ‘show and tell’ moment conveying the ‘things are not always as they seem’ reality that readily applies to ALL media narratives, showcasing the need to use critical thinking at ALL times and not take ANY situation at face value.

(In part one and part two, we discussed how media literacy applies to Super Bowl advertising and social media tactics themselves) 

Though Super Bowl ads are rife with examples to spring-board out of the shallow end into deeper thinking and murky waters impacting children’s health and wellness, this SPECIFIC public service announcement is a case study in digging beneath the surface to look at the roots rather than the topsoil. I absolutely love it.


How can we use this PSA with teens to instill media literacy? 

Open-ended student questions specific to this PSA might be:

Why do you think this is airing during the Super Bowl?

What events precipitated this ad and who is behind it?

Who helped fund the PSA and why? What do you think it cost?

Have you ever been in a dangerous situation where you couldn’t speak freely or truthfully?

What outcomes do you think this might have among students—players–the Super Bowl audience?

What demographics are they trying to reach and do you think they succeeded?

What did you learn about content, tonality, and subtext of messages?

“When it’s hard to talk, it’s up to us to listen” is the tag line, who is the “us” you think they’re referring to?

Who is the “us” in your world with deeper listening skills? (social media? peers? parents? teachers?)

Domestic violence hashtags include: #NoMore, #DV and #VAW

The ‘pre-game’ lineup of social media buzz is already occurring with the #NoMore hashtag for the PSA adding lift to the #DV (domestic violence) hashtag and #VAW (violence against women) hashtag where conversations primarily reside.

There will also be prominent pushback on NFL policies themselves, such as the #GoodellMustGo hashtag by activist UltraViolet calling for the ouster of the NFL commissioner for his lack of enforcement/investigation into pro player’s domestic violence charges and arrests, and cross pollination of their :15 second ad on sites like Sports Illustrated online ( Citing Public Policy Polling in “Women Flag NFL For Handling of Abuse” 55% of women do not approve of the way the league handles domestic abuse, while 67% believe the NFL should do more to prevent players and other league personnel from assaulting women.”

purple ribbonStudents might study the difference between awareness vs action…Super Bowl Ads that persuade for purchases vs purposes…Or even write about the role of advocacy overall as it’s veered into mass media sports events.

Using the No domestic violence PSA, students could monitor the ‘number of shares,’ look at traction and action at a higher level of policy, and debate the efficacy of clicktivism…

They could follow the money trail of ‘sponsorship’ and watch how pinkwashing controversies of NFL’s Pink October  are media manufactured machinations vs sustainable change maneuvers…And track NFL policy and behavioral change to incite accountability.

It’s a quick way to teach why turning profiles purple for DV or having football players wearing purple bands may be supportive and social but not necessarily convert to policy and practices.

Students could also report on social media’s role in social justice movements and the spillage into sports arenas (like the solidarity of uniforms/basketball jerseys w/Ferguson/I Can’t Breathe) or discuss media fairness and politics of media coverage in general, like Seattle Seahawks Marshawn Lynch’s personal protest, agency vs. contractual obligations etc.

The choices are endless…and the headlines springing from headline news, current events and pop culture are bound to engage far more than textbook teaching.

What are some of YOUR ideas for using media like this to elicit critical thinking and push toward positive change? Sound off in the comments below. Meanwhile here are some related posts on Shaping Youth to help facilitate more of these important conversations…silence and stigma should be ‘No More.’

How will YOU use your voice?

Related Reading by Amy Jussel  on Shaping Youth

Circle of 6 Campus Dating App: What it Is and What it Isn’t

Victim Blaming, “Asking For It” And Baiting Outrage on the Radio

Love is Respect: Teen Texting Tools to Get Dialed In To Dating Abuse

The Bro Code: Media, Masculinity & Misogynistic Misfires

Public Health and the Grammys: Rihanna/Chris Brown DV Messaging

Media Messaging, Binge Drinking and Teens

Depravity Gone Viral: A Thin Line For Humanity

Man Down? Girl Up, Rihanna. Own Your Influence.

What Does A 13-Year Old Boy Know About Dating Violence? Plenty.

Backdraft: DV=Differing Views on Dating/Domestic Violence

Attention KMart Shoppers, Dating Violence on Aisle 3

Predatory Practices As Sport? Boys to Men & Swaggerfests

Gender, Race & Sexism: Shaping Youth Through Pop Culture Cues

Talk to Me: Because Media Matters for Youth Outreach

Uplifting, Positive Picks for Youth Outreach:  Resource Roundup

Dear Media, Please Change Your Channel of Influence

Teaching Moments: Get Boys to Participate in “GirlCaught” to Dial Down Disrespect

Girls As Boy Toys Takes an Even More Toxic Turn

Helpful Resources For DV Outreach, Life Literacy

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Research/Facts

10 Things Men Can Do About Gender Violence: Jackson Katz

DV Hotlines/Resources

10 Warning Signs (LINA)

Love Is Respect

Love Is Not Abuse (List of Partner Links)

Break the Cycle

CDC Violence Prevention Homepage

CDC Dating Matters Initiative

CDC Violence Prevention PDF Download

The Respect

RespectRx Boss of Me

A Thin’s Over the Line (digital abuse/teen control)

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

See It and Stop It! Organization

Do Something Organization

LiveStrong: Teen Dating Violence

Love is Not (Liz Claiborne campaign)

APA: Teens/Love Doesn’t Have to Hurt (pdf) Cycle of abuse/DV; cause-effect

HSUS/Animal abuse & corollary w/domestic violence

Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness

The Safe Space


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