Using technology to reach adolescents and prevent domestic violence

The Reimagine Lab group Got Your Back

 Reimagine Lab: Preventing cycles of violence, now and into the future is a human-centered design lab supported by the Foundation that produced new and innovative solutions to breaking the cycle of domestic and family violence. The lab launched in 2018, with 16 community fellows from diverse backgrounds and from across California from inside and outside the domestic violence field. The engagement of community-based fellows in the development of new ideas to prevent domestic violence reflects the Foundation’s vision for engaging those with lived experience in the design of solutions. The fellows formed teams to develop their ideas for preventing violence with the help of Foundation partners Gobee Group, a health and social innovation design firm based in Oakland. Gobee designed and facilitated the Reimagine Lab experience with guidance from Foundation staff and leadership.

Got Your Back (GYB) is using technology to teach youth about healthy relationships by way of a mobile app or add-on to an existing app to flag unhealthy language and behaviors. The following blog is a reflection from Sarah Johnson, design intern at Gobee Group, on how Got Your Back prototyped their idea:

Adolescence - a critical period for mental, emotional, and social development - is underappreciated as a key target period for the prevention of family and domestic violence. Youth often lack the tools they need to effectively navigate relationships and difficult situations.Youth also rely heavily on technology, even before the COVID-19 pandemic drastically increased technological reliance. This presents a unique opportunity to use technology to reach youth where they are to support wide scale, upstream violence prevention.

Vanessa Guillen Mural

GYB was developed as a technology to help youth detect and flag unhealthy online communication in real-time using a friendly, personalized GYB character (avatar) created by the user. The team developed the tool by engaging youth and partnering with college students, sponsoring two design challenges with the Fung Fellowship for Wellness and Technology Innovations at UC Berkeley, and a hackathon called Hack 4 Safety with San Jose State University students.

The value of GYB is both in the specific product concept and in identifying a neglected opportunity for family and domestic violence prevention.

The GYB team is currently pausing further development of this idea but is eager to share their concept and findings with the field to add more insights into how to engage youth through the power of technology. For a glimpse into their work, check out this video. For more information about GYB, contact Evelyn Magaña at evelyn [at], Frances Ho at ho.frances [at], Navya Kaur at navyak [at], or Trisha Baird at trishamaebaird [at]

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