Talking to Teens about Violence is Topic of Series Hosted by Humanities Institute

Event: "Helping Our Teenagers Think about Violence and Peace," a free speaker series presented by the Humanities Institute at The University of Texas at Austin.

When: Tuesdays, 7:30-9 p.m., Oct. 12 to Nov. 16

Where: Community Engagement Center, 1009 East 11th St. A map is available online.

Background: With random acts of violence making news headlines, the visual imagery can be distressing to adolescents. To help parents, teachers and the larger community learn how to talk about violence to teenagers, the Humanities Institute is hosting a free six-week series titled "Helping Our Teenagers Think about Violence and Peace."

Topics range from preventing bullying and "mean-girl" behavior, to helping children make sense out of violent video games and movies and understanding attitudes widely shared by many Americans about war and peace-building.

"We live in a world where violence surrounds us in news reports, films, TV, video games, gangs in the community and bullying in schools," said Stephen Sonnenberg, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at the Baylor College of Medicine and Humanities Institute Fellow. "Teenagers are in a state of rapid emotional development, and growing up involves many daunting challenges. Their first source of help is their parents. Teachers and clergy come next. This course is designed to help those adults help the teens in their lives."

Organized and moderated by Sonnenberg, who focuses his research on violence, war, trauma and redemption, the series will feature a different speaker each week:

  • Oct. 12: "War in Ancient Times: How the Greeks Taught Their Children About War" by Thomas Palaima, professor of classics at The University of Texas at Austin.
  • Oct. 19: "How America Thinks of War and How We Might Begin to Think About Peace-building" by David Edwards, professor of government at The University of Texas at Austin.
  • Oct. 26: "Adolescent Gangs and Violence: Some Lessons from St. Louis" by Barrik Van Winkle, author of "Life in the Gangs."
  • Nov. 2: "How Parents Might Help Their Children Think About Violence in the Media" by Kirsten Cather, professor of Asian studies at The University of Texas at Austin.
  • Nov. 9: "Youth Violence Prevention: Initiatives of the Council on At-Risk Youth" by Adrian Moore, executive director of Council on At-Risk Youth.
  • Nov. 16: "How to Tell When Your Child Needs Special Help and How to Get It" by Gemma Marangoni Ainslie, a psychologist-psychoanalyst in private practice with adolescents and adults.

Enrollment is closed, but media are invited. Reporters interested in attending a class may contact Paula Kothman at 512-471-9056 or