Breaking the Cycle - Youth Participatory Action Research

Blue Shield of California Foundation & Planned Parenthood Mar Monte


I co-facilitated a project in which we trained youth to conduct research on a program they had participated in.

The Question

This project was supported by a Blue Shield of California Foundation grant. The purpose of the funding was to support, expand, and replicate evidence-based violence reduction initiatives.

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte runs a Teen Parent Support Program (TPSP) in Santa Clara County. TPSP provides free support for pregnant and parenting youth. The Blue Shield grant would allow us to evaluate the efficacy of the program in breaking cycles of violence: Does TPSP disrupt or break cycles of intergenerational violence within TPSP participant families?

A row of young people each holds one of the letters in the word change

Youth Participatory Research

Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) is a process of learning and action. Youth are trained to conduct research on issues relevant to their lives and their community. Since the research is done by those with lived experience, the solutions proposed are informed by real needs.  

We recruited youth who had participated in the TPSP program to be part of a YPAR cohort.  My co-facilitator and I ran weekly meetings to provide training and support related to research methods.

A powerpoint slide with the title "How do we define 'Breaking the Cycle' Beneath the title are three icons representing behavior, communication, and care

Breaking the Cycle

The YPAR participants started by defining what it means to break the cycle of violence. The definition they created included: modeling healthy behaviors, open conversations about domestic violence, and being surrounded by people who provide care and support.

The YPAR team then formed a research plan and designed data collection tools. They created a survey that was distributed to current TPSP participants in addition to an interview protocol. After conducting interview and gathering data, we worked with the youth to analyze the data.

Once the group had their findings, they presented them to PPMM and community stakeholders. Their presentation also included recommendations to further expand the ability of TPSP to break cycles of violence.