Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV)
Why teach healthy relationships?
Teaching young people about healthy relationships is a core component in preventing interpersonal violence. We often hear from victims of domestic violence that they only know what an unhealthy relationship looks like; no one ever taught them what a healthy relationship looks like. Teens are more at risk for intimate partner violence than adults, and the severity of violence among partners has been shown to increase if the pattern was established in adolescence.
Linda Chamberlain, PhD MPH, says, “Adolescents lack all the hardware in their brains to think like an adult. The prefrontal cortex goes through extensive remodeling during adolescence and is responsible for judgment, impulse control, problem solving, organization, planning, multi-tasking and goal setting.” In other words, adolescents are often driven by emotions and act quickly before weighing consequences and need guidance from positive adult role models to learn these important life skills.
Teens learn from their influencers and benefit from learning healthy relationships skills in the school environment. According to experts like Dr. Linda Chamberlain, teens need opportunities to practice relationship skills like direct communication and conflict resolution in order to learn them. If schools, parents, and communities don’t play a significant role in the lives of youth, teens are more at- risk for delinquent adolescent behaviors such as succumbing to peer pressure, using drugs and alcohol, choosing unprotected sex, developing unhealthy relationship patterns, and low academic achievement.
Read more about the amazing teen brain and Linda Chamberlain’s workshops.
What role can schools play?
School environments play a vital role in the development of young people. Teachers and administrators have as much influence as parents in shaping and molding our youth. Schools can choose to include healthy relationship courses as a mandatory subject and can also work with students to create a school climate that promotes respect and does not tolerate violence in any form.
Click here for more resources for schools.
How do I schedule a healthy relationships course?
SAFV’s DELTA Coordinator and Children’s Program Advocate developed an 8- session healthy relationship course for separate gendered classes for high school students. The course, which can be modified to fit individual school needs, covers a range of topics that impact the development of equal and respectful relationships. Topics include identifying personal core values and cultural background; societal violence, privilege and oppression; gender stereotypes; media literacy; creating allies; self-care and boundaries; dating violence and creating healthy relationships. These classes use excerpts from other well-known curriculums such as Paul Kivel’s Young Men’s Work and Young Women’s Lives, Voices by Stephanie Covington and evidence-based curriculum, Safe Dates. These courses have been implemented at both Sitka High and Pacific High school and have been evaluated extensively. Please contact Julia Smith, DELTA Coordinator at SAFV, if you would like to schedule a healthy relationships course at your school. firstname.lastname@example.org or (907)747-3370.
What about a one-time presentation?
Although evidence shows that one-time presentations don’t have the same impact as comprehensive consistent messaging, the DELTA Coordinator in collaboration with other SAFV staff still provide domestic violence and sexual assault education. We only provide these presentations to programs using existing comprehensive intervention and redirection strategies. Please contact the DELTA Coordinator to schedule a presentation, (907)747-3370 or email@example.com
Click here to view the Nine Principles of Effective Prevention.
Evidenced based materials
The Fourth R (“R”stands for relationships) is an evidenced based comprehensive school-based curriculum designed to be implemented in Physical and Health Education. This curriculum saw widespread success with students across Canada and was recently adapted to fit the needs of rural Alaskan communities. Sitka High and Pacific High in Sitka are among a growing number of schools across Alaska to institute this curriculum.
Please click here for a summary on the Fourth R.