Teen Dating Violence Prevention Program
What is the Healthy Relationships Program?
Young people are capable of making positive, responsible choices in their relationships and are our greatest asset in the fight to ending teen dating violence, but they can do so only after being provided with the knowledge they need to act. The Healthy Relationship Program is offered to students in grades 7 through 12. At the middle school level, this program begins by asking students to reflect on what makes a healthy friendship. From there students are introduced to the differences between flirting and sexual harassment, and the importance of learning to set boundaries. In high school, students receive a comprehensive overview of teen dating violence and how to prevent it. Lessons on sexual harassment and sexual assault are often included as part of the Healthy Relationships curriculum. We arm our students with the necessary tools to prevent dating and sexual violence.
We must have these conversations early to dispel many pervasive myths about love and to establish a new norm for what constitutes a healthy relationship. The curriculum also asks students to examine traditional gender stereotypes and the role they may play in perpetuating teen dating violence. Additionally, an overview of the services that Safe Futures offers is provided to all of our students with particular attention given to the domestic violence and sexual assault hotline numbers. Students are encouraged to use the services themselves and/or refer others they know who may be in need now or in the future.
What are the goals of the Healthy Relationships Program?
The Healthy Relationships program is typically taught over five, consecutive days. The lessons utilize a variety of teaching tools to meet students’ different learning needs, including but not limited to: visual materials (including a short video depicting one example of an unhealthy relationship between teenagers); interactive relationship scenarios and games; examples of current, popular music and advertisements and the messages they send about relationships; and skill-building exercises around setting boundaries and being an ally.
- Learn how to keep their relationships healthy, how to identify the red flags of an abusive relationship, and that Safe Futures is a resource available to them, as well as their friends and family.
- Begin to think critically about gender roles, stereotypes, the media, and how these affect intimate relationships.
- Develop tools for helping friends who are experiencing abuse or being abusive.
- Develop an accurate understanding of consent and sexual assault and will understand the importance of respecting boundaries as a means to preventing sexual assault.
Why do we teach Healthy Relationships?
A 2017-2018 survey conducted by Safe Futures found that in southeastern Connecticut:
- 37% of high school students who dated during the past 12 months, said they had been threatened, yelled at, humiliated, or told where they could go or who they could hang out with by their partner.
- 16% of students who have been in a relationship in the last year report that an intimate partner forced them to do sexual things they did not want to do at least once. Of these, a quarter reported that it happened six or more times.
- 55% of all students report knowing someone who has been verbally or emotionally hurt by an intimate partner.
- 21% of students who have been in a relationship in the last year report that an intimate partner threatened, embarrassed, or controlled them using technology at least once.