From Our Team
Program in schools to help prevent teen dating violence
Posted on October 4, 2017
I was invited to a local middle school’s career day, where I was given the opportunity to explain my work developing a teen dating violence prevention curriculum.
To avoid complete boredom during my presentation, I immersed them in a curriculum activity.
(Life tip: Tell a middle school student they are the first to try your product, and they will enthusiastically agree to do it!)
The lesson consisted of identifying attitudes on “okay” and “not okay” behavior in a teen dating relationship. To my surprise, most of the students thought it was okay for their partner to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as not allowing them to hang out with people they don’t like or expecting them to spend all their free time together.
- Nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
- One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
- One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
“To my surprise, most of the students thought it was okay for their partner to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as not allowing them to hang out with people they don’t like or expecting them to spend all their free time together.”
In El Paso, about 55 percent of youth have dated someone in the past year. Among youth who dated:
- 17.6 percent of boys and 17.1 percent of girls reported that someone they were dating physically hurt them on purpose.
- 11.3 percent of boys and 17 percent of girls reported that someone they were dating forced them to do sexual things that they did not want to do.
More staggering is that El Paso has higher incidences of physical dating violence among youth than the nation. The YWCA, in collaboration with the Paso del Norte Health Foundation and Health Advocates, developed an evidence-based teen dating violence curriculum supplement, titled “Me & You.”
During the 2017 spring semester, more than 2,000 students and 31 teachers from seven middle schools and five high schools from Deming Public Schools and the El Paso Independent School District participated in the pilot study under the “Me & You” curriculum.
Results demonstrated positive changes in which students indicated:
- It was wrong to hit other people, say mean things to other people, take anger out using physical force, and say mean things if you’re angry with someone you date.
- They disagreed that girls sometimes deserve to be hit by the boys they date.
- They were more confident they could stay out of fights, understand another person’s point of view, and talk out a disagreement.
The Me & You curriculum is designed to be implemented by health teachers for middle and high school students. It consists of 20 activities each for middle and high school on the following topics:
- Defining dating violence
- Characteristics of healthy relationships
- Warning signs, prevention and ways to stop dating violence
- Community influences on dating violence prevention
- Technology and dating violence prevention
The YWCA is looking for school districts interested in implementing this curriculum beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year.
If interested in implementing the “Me & You” curriculum, please contact Lucia Hernandez at 519-0001 for more information.
As the activity ended during Career Day, I explained why the behaviors were unhealthy and the students reconsidered their stance. It made me ecstatic to know that we have the potential to teach students how to cultivate healthy relationships. Guest Author: Lucia Hernandez, project manager for dating violence prevention at the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region.
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