The Power of Respect

Please use the following as a discussion guide to maximize the use of the short film here, which can serve as a tool for teachers and school staff members to better understand students’ experiences of youth empowerment.

The story told in the film is an example of students’ challenges, successes and obstacles as agents of positive change at their school. The film is not intended to demonstrate an ideal model or template for teachers or schools regarding youth empowerment in a school setting.


A community educator tells about the transformative impact on a group of Grade 7 boys from a neighbourhood with high levels of marginalization, of sharing their experiences of violence, street culture and the emotional impacts of marginalization.


Articulating lived experiences of marginalization though difficult, enables young people to find their voice and their power.


  • The collective impact of violence and marginalization within a community
  • Violence as an indicator of marginalization
  • Student engagement as an outcome of recognizing and naming young people’s experiences of marginalization
  • Student participation as an indicator of youth empowerment
  • Young people finding an outlet by expressing strong and often difficult emotions and naming the problem
  • Adults creating a safe space for student voices
  • Young people experiencing positive power as a result of finding their voice
  • Connections between the school and classroom and our larger society


  • Fostering student engagement by creating spaces for students to voice their experiences
  • Listening carefully and validating students’ experiences and struggles
  • Encouraging the expression of negative and difficult emotions as a skill for coping with a painful situation
  • Respecting students’ space and their choice to participate in discussions (or not)
  • Naming the issues as a way of healing from collective experiences of violence
  • Staying open and believing in young people’s capacity for positive change 

Questions for Group Discussion

  1. What are some of the messages this story offers?
  2. What social factors might underlie the violence experienced in the community in this story?
  3. How did the adult in this story foster the students’ engagement?
  4. Which strategies were most effective in facilitating the students’ empowerment?
  5. What does this story tell us about the needs of young people?
  6. What does this story tell us about adults’ role and responsibility towards young people?