Teen Dating Violence Prevention Program

What is the Healthy Relationships Program?

All Healthy Relationships programs are founded on the belief that:

  1. Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in their dating relationships; and,
  2. There is no excuse for abuse, ever.

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?

Students will…

  • 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.

How is it taught?

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.

Testimonials from High School Students

“I’ve learned how to deal with unhealthy relationships by using the tools (the educators) have given me.  In fact I have helped a friend who was in a physically abusive relationship and I got her to come to terms that she is being hurt and she can’t let it happen, later that day she broke up with him and she says she has ‘never felt more free’ than she does right now.  So all in all, this is a wonderful thing you are doing; you have made such an impact in my life.”

“I always thought that someone was jealous about their partner because that person really loves the other person.  But it is not and it does make sense that someone who is jealous could kill someone, or commit suicide.  Now I realize I also was in an obsessive relationship.  I had great feelings for my ex-girlfriend, I would text her like crazy and couldn’t stop thinking about her.  I always wanted to be with her, then we broke up and I was angry for awhile, and I’m glad I didn’t do anything crazy.  Now I’m going to control myself and see how I can be better.”

“I learned so many things, like how to respect females and how not to judge somebody because of their sexuality, because they have feelings like us. I never really used to let my girlfriend chill and hang around with friends, because there was this boy I never really trusted her with. But now we are really close and we show more emotion to each other. You guys really pushed me to open up my feelings to my girlfriend.”

“I learned that my mom is in an unhealthy relationship, and how I can help her.”

“I think I’ve been abusing my girlfriend. I want to work on that.”