One in three teens experience dating abuse, the most common type of youth victimization. In response, The Youth Alliance (TYA) has developed a multi-tiered approach that equips young people with information and tools promoting positive dating relationships. Our Healthy Relationships programs target not only young people, but also their educators and families, to build a knowledge base and support network fostering healthy versus unhealthy relationship habits.
TYA’s Healthy Relationships programs raise awareness of harmful power and control patterns that many teens mistake as normal or signs of caring. Our presenters actively engage students in multi-media sessions, elaborating on the confusing, mixed messages bombarding teens in music, television, and Internet. Students receive Identity Cards which reaffirm their personal worth and entitlement to a healthy, respectful relationship. They also receive informative cards with their “Dating Bill of Rights” and characteristics of healthy relationships. These tools help students recognize and respond to physical, emotional, social, and electronic abuse.
Besides equipping students, TYA offers educators teen dating violence training sessions and subsequent lesson planning resources. We also host family nights for the schools and districts, encouraging parents to communicate early and often about dating with their child. Our family night brochure is packed with essential information and discussion prompts to help carry the conversation home.
Since debuting this program, school social workers and guidance counselors have testified of both its initial and ongoing impact on students recognizing relationship rights and responsibilities. Months afterwards, many students report still having and referring to the literature we distributed such as their “Dating Bill of Rights.” Through our Healthy Relationships, anti-bullying and other programs, we continue to build on our commitment to serve and empower young people.