Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.Anne LamottGreen Dot is a way of looking at the problem of violence with hope that it can be solved, and that we all have a role to play in solving it. The numbers are on our side: most people don’t want the next act of violence to take place. As individuals, we have the power to influence our friends, family, coworkers, and the world around us, one green dot at a time. It is not enough to raise awareness or to respond to violence after it occurs. We can each take action in the lives we are already living.
A red dot is any choice someone makes to use words or actions to harm another. A husband smashes a door during an argument with his wife. A woman locks her children in a room. A teenager posts a naked picture of a classmate on the Internet. A guy in the bar buys drinks for a girl until she’s too drunk to say no. A group of kids harass their classmate for being gay. Whatever form it takes, someone is hurt as a result.
BystandersMost acts of violence have bystanders, people who witness the warning signs and escalation. Green Dot teaches bystander skills: recognizing different kinds of red dots, getting around barriers to action, and options for intervening to prevent potential acts of violence. Each of us has had those moments when we notice something that made us uncomfortable, that just didn’t feel right. When we learn and practice Green Dot skills, we are empowered to safely step in and change a red dot into a green dot.
A green dot is a single moment when someone steps in to prevent violence from occurring. Each of us has encountered situations that made us uncomfortable, that just didn’t feel right. When we know what to do, we can safely intervene and turn a red dot into a green dot. Call a cab for someone who is drunk. Believe a child who says that someone has touched them inappropriately, and find someone who can help. Check in with a teenager who seems withdrawn and depressed. Ask a family member whose relationship seems rocky, “Are you okay?”
We can also do Daily Dots by making violence prevention part of who we are. Have a personal conversation with friends about how important reducing violence is to us. Attend a Green Dot training. Teach a child how to ask a safe person for help. Subscribe to updates from a local agency addressing violence. Each of these takes just a moment, but can change someone’s life.
Your voice mattersImagine a map of our community. Your home is on the map. Your school, your workplace, your friends’ houses, local businesses, your favorite places to hang out. Imagine the map is full of red dots, each representing a moment when someone used their words or actions to harm another.
Now imagine that you notice a potentially violent situation and you step in to intervene. A green dot appears on the map. You mention Green Dots in your staff meeting. Another green dot appears. You bring it up to a friend and listen as she tells you about her own experience with violence. Another green dot. Each of these are single moments that matter deeply to the people whose lives you touch, who get the message that their safety is important to you. Even one green dot makes a difference.
And along with your dots are my green dots, and the green dots of everyone else who cares deeply about creating a safe, healthy community. Slowly but surely, our green dots overwhelm and displace the red dots on the map. Not only do our green dots matter individually, but collectively they are a movement. We are in the majority. We can act to create the community we want to see.