Recently I’ve been doing a lot of research into adolescent dating violence and the significant impact it has on one’s life and personal relationships. Being a social work major in college, I am being exposed to many vulnerable populations inside and outside the classroom. I have focused more on adolescents because my internship is focused around helping youth ages 11-22. They offer many programs from helping youth become job ready to offering temporary safe host homes or an apartment placement. Typically we work with a lot of youth who have many high risk factors such as suicidal ideation, poor family connections or support, substance abuse, homelessness, etc.
Research has shown that a lot of youth get involved in dating relationships that become abusive, physically or emotionally. This may be because of many
RISK FACTORS such as:
- Exposure to violence from family or community
- Poor support groups or negative influences through peers
- Inability to control feelings and emotions
- Substance abuse
- Stressors: family, peers, and school
- Sexual activity
There are a lack of effective protective factors, ways to help stop the cause of dating violence. This is mostly because there have not been enough studies done to show conclusive results in the protice factors that exist. The curriculum that I have been working through is called Safe Dates An Adolescent Dating Abuse Prevention Curriculum (click the link to view – https://www.hazelden.org/HAZ_MEDIA/9863_safedates.pdf). It is a nine session prevention program that uses cognitive behavioral theory to help teach and build skills in creating positive changes to one’s mindset about dating.
Outline of the Nine session Safe Dates Curriculum
- Defining Caring Relationships
→ Gets students thinking about what they want from a dating relationship. Making choices about characteristics they want from a partner, how they want to be treated, and how they want to treat their partner.
- Defining Dating Abuse
→ Stimulating good discussion around opinions of violence and abuse. Using “harmful behaviors” to sensitize the word abuse and help students understand abusive behaviors.
- Why Do People Abuse?
→ Helping students recognize that abusive behaviors are controllable. Talking through scenarios in a safe environment.
- How to Help Friends
→ Teaching students how to respond to a friend who discloses an abusive relationship or if they suspect abuse. Explaining why it may be difficult to leave an unhealthy harmful relationship.
- Helping friends
→ Students need to know how to identify abuse and feel comfortable talking to their friend about what they’ve observed. Practicing communication by approaching a friend who is a victim or perpetrator of abuse.
- Overcoming Gender Stereotypes
→ Biases and stereotypes are hard to recognize so this session really focuses on helping students acknowledge the negative consequences of gender stereotyping.
- Equal Power through Communication
→ Conflict always exists in relationships, however partners choose how to communicate without attacking and abusing each other. Through different scenarios, students will get to practice this.
- How we Feel, How We Deal
→ Learning about personal triggers or “hot buttons” to effectively handle their anger, so triggers do not lead to abusive behavior.
- Preventing Sexual Assault
→ Discussing important factors that place teens at risk of being a victim or perpetrator of date rape through taking a quiz and hold discussion among peers.
It is important as an adolescent to seek help when you feel you are being mistreated in a dating relationship. Also, you have concerns about a friend who may be a victim or the perpetrator to know that it is important to get help from adults such as school staff, parents, or other supervising adults so that your friends are getting the help they need. This situation is not ever easy to approach, but it is better to get the help needed now than to allow harm to build over time.
Foshee, V., & Langwick, S. Second Edition (2010). Safe Dates An Adolescent Dating Abuse Prevention Curriculum. Hazelden Center City, Minnesota. Retrieved from https://www.hazelden.org/HAZ_MEDIA/9863_safedates.pdf