Our Beliefs Matter

Fostering resilience begins by believing that all individuals have the capacity for resilience (1). Thus, discussions about creating a more responsive system to childhood exposure to domestic violence include discussions both about best practices as reflected in strategies, programs and services, and our beliefs as a foundation for creating climates conducive to positive individual and family outcomes.

Shifting our view

When we view young people and their behaviors as “the problem”, we neglect to see them in the context of their lived experiences and unique paths to creating powerful identities, meaning, and well-being (2). In 2011, Families Thrive, the Antioch Unified School District, and the Youth Intervention Network, collaborated to invite a group of twenty high school youth in Antioch, CA to participate in a powerful approach called Choppin’ it Up. This approach to working with youth extends beyond solving problems and instead focuses on weaving new narratives and co-constructing alternatives by increasing our understanding of each other, generating new ways of being in relationship, and imaging positive possibilities.

Creating new narratives

In their work together, the young people shared how dominant narratives about youth often influence the beliefs people hold about them, the stories that are told about them, and how often the stories are told. Youth looked at how these stories impact the way adults are in relationships with youth and the possibilities and alternatives that are constructed. By subscribing to and participating in problematic dominant narratives, adults often miss seeing and hearing the multitude of strengths, dreams, and hopes youth have through which together we can imagine positive possibilities and build better worlds together. We may forget that despite the many challenges that children and youth may face in their lives, many not only survive but also thrive and flourish. 

The story of transformation is centered on how adults and society view youth who are labeled at-risk or troubled, how youth view themselves, and in altering the relation, including the language we use and stories we tell, between youth and adults in order to create positive change in our communities. The following video provides a summary of our work at Choppin’ it Up. 


  1. Truebridge, S. (2010). Tell me a story: Influencing educators’ beliefs about student resilience in an effort to enhance student success.
  2. Bodiford, K (2012). Choppin' it Up: Youth-led dialogues for positive change.