This week National Public Radio is airing stories on preventing violence in teen relationships and featuring the programs cropping up across the country that seek to address it.Â Known as â€œteen dating abuse,â€Â school officialsÂ say too many teens are hitting and slapping the people theyâ€™re dating, a behavior that isÂ recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which estimates that 1 in 10 adolescents report an experience with physical violence from a dating partner.Â Â Physical aggression isn’t the only form of abuse, name calling, insults, isolating their partner and using coercion to get a partner to do something s/he maynot want to like have unsafe sex.Â
Many sociologists say the problem stems from the ways boys and girls are socialized in our culture; boys are conditionedÂ to be aggressive and girls more passive.Â Â And today’sÂ media outlets tend toÂ escalate violenceÂ through the content of some television shows and video games, and social media sites canÂ create a haven for cyberbullying.Â Â STo address these issues, schools and communities are bringing in programs such as Safe Dating, Student Connection and My Strength.Â
At the forefront of this movement is a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Dr. David Wolfe, who created a curriculum called,Â “Fourth R:Â Skills for Youth Relationships,” for 20 middle schools in Ontario and has grown to 800 schools throughout Canada.Â Now his program is being adopted in the United States. Using interactive scriptsÂ related toÂ sexuality, drugs and fighting into situations students are likely to face, Wolfe says the goal of his program is, “to identify healthy and unhealthy responses, and then practice them enough to feel comfortable.”
Another popular program that uses creative role-play to educate teenagers about the dangers of abusive relationships and how to prevent the cycle is â€œThe Yellow Dress,â€ based on a real story about a teen girl who was murderedÂ by her high school boyfriend. Their web site at http://www.deanaseducationaltheater.org/yellowdress.html discusses these topics with teen audiences after the performance:
- Recognize the early warning signs of abuse
- Learn how to help friends/family members who are victims or perpetrators of abuse
- Understand the cycle of abuse
- Access and utilize community resources.
Being inexperienced at dating makes teens more susceptible to dating violence, but the problem can have far reaching implications into marriage and domestic violence patterns later.Â Â Coaching teens on how to set healthy boundaries is one of the keys to preventing a lifetime cycle of abuse.Â LifeBoundâ€™s program, Success in Middle School: A Transition Road Map, helps students develop meaningful friendships with both sexes and encourages students to listen to their instincts that cue them on controlling or manipulative tactics by other people.Â Making judgments about when someone is dishonoring you or making you feel scared can be difficult for students without well developed emotional intelligence.Â Our People Smarts for Teenagers guides students through developing their EI, as well as, walks them through scenarios that help them learn to enforce their boundaries.
Important Questions to Consider:
How do we start as early as fifth gradeÂ to teachÂ adolescents toÂ develop a compassionate heart and listen to their instincts?
How canÂ weÂ help teensÂ recognizeÂ when someone is trying to exert power or control over them?
How can we as educators do a better job coaching adolescents and teens on developing healthy relationships?
by Brenda Wilson
School officials are worried that too many teens are hitting and slapping the person they’re dating. To target this dating abuse, violence prevention classes are springing up in schools around the country. This fall, middle and high schools in
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