Jackson Katz, who is nationally known for his work on gender violence, will visit Palo Alto this week to work with high school students and give a public talk. The event is part of the district's efforts to address sexual misconduct in its schools.
Katz is the co-founder of national prevention and education program Mentors in Violence Prevention, or MVP Strategies. He is well-known for a 2013 TED Talk titled "Violence against women — it's a men's issue."
A new district-level task force, formed this fall in part to research and develop a prevention program for Palo Alto and Gunn high schools, is bringing Katz to Palo Alto Unified. The Responsive Inclusive Safe Environment (RISE) task force is expected to make districtwide recommendations to the interim superintendent on how to improve legal compliance and reporting procedures; increase education; and empower students to stand up against and report sexual assault, violence and harassment. The group was convened after community concern about the district's handling of student sexual-assault cases at Paly.
In sessions with high school students and a public presentation for parents and community members this week, Katz will discuss how to respond to not only gender violence but also youth violence, gang violence, mass incarceration, school shootings, homelessness, substance abuse, depression and suicide, according to an event description.
"His work focuses on activating 'bystanders' with the leadership skills to challenge all forms of abuse," the description reads. "Dr. Katz offers practical strategies for intervention and prevention while focusing on changing the social norms that often underlie acts of harassment, abuse, or violence."
Katz will meet with Gunn and Paly students from each grade level in hourlong sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. The RISE task force is determining how students can debrief afterwards with teachers, according to task force member and parent John Fitton. Both Katz and Anea Bogue, an expert who spoke to students about healthy relationships and consent in February, have provided district teachers with electronic materials they can use with students, Fitton said.
Katz's public talk will take place on Wednesday, April 11, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Paly's Performing Arts Center, 50 Embarcadero Road. Child care will be provided and Spanish and Mandarin interpretation will be available.
To register, go to eventbrite.com.