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The school year has started – which means it’s time for homework, ball games, and hours spent within school walls.
It also means that school employees have the opportunity to spend more time with our youngsters. Although it’s not their responsibility, this extra time means that school employees have a chance of recognizing problems among our youth.
Teachers, specifically, see youth interact with peers, friends, and even dating partners in a way that parents will not. Also, because of the time teachers spend with youth on a daily basis, teachers have a continuous opportunity to build trust and create an environment that allows and encourages open classroom discussions. Hopefully, some of those discussions will be about healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Although we wish it weren’t true, studies have found that teens from across the country are experiencing high levels of abuse in their dating relationships. It starts early – about 72% of students in eighth and ninth grade report “dating.” By the time they are in high school, 54% of students report dating violence among their peers.
One in two to one in five teens report actual sexual or physical abuse, have been victimized through technology (such as sexting), and report being controlled, threatened, and pressured to do things they didn’t want to do. Of those having been in an abusive dating relationship, 32% have confided in a parent about their abusive relationship. Adolescents who grow up in violent homes are at risk for recreating the abusive relationships they have seen.
Recently, there have been many stories on the news reporting teens losing their lives as a result of abusive relationships. Many states are enacting laws in the name of teen dating violence victims. Schools around the country are stepping up to incorporate teen dating violence curriculums and policies.
Although 84% of parents say schools should provide dating and relationship education, only 30% of parents say their child’s school in fact provides such education while one in four teens say the threat of violence interfered with teaching effectiveness and disrupted their learning.
Since our youth rely heavily on their peers for information, albeit sometimes misguided information, it is important that our schools and communities as a whole get the right information to all of our youth.
Christos House provides free presentations to schools and community organizations about healthy relationships and teen dating violence, as well as several other topics. “My school didn’t offer presentations or discussions about healthy relationships and dating violence,” says Christos House Prevention Specialist Amber Brignole, “and I wish they had. Before graduating high school, I got involved with an abusive guy without noticing any signs that I can look back on now and see clearly. I almost lost my life because of it.”
The prevention team at Christos House believes all youth need this information to not only protect themselves, but to also be able to save other youth. Each of us has a role in the lives of our youth. We are examples for our teens to follow and set the tone for relationships in their lives. Together, we can prevent teen dating violence. By starting the dialog, we can show them that it is a big deal.
For more information regarding presentations, teen dating violence, warning signs, etc., please call Christos House at 417-469-1190 to speak with Sunshine Gorskey or Amber Brignote.