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YWCA Strives To Educate Students About Teen Dating Violence

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Araceli Gomez-Aldana
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The YWCA visits schools in Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Wells and Whitley Counties to teach middle and high school students about teen dating violence. 

The YWCA says one in every three teenagers will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse by someone they’re in a relationship with before they become adults. The organization offers a three-day class entitled Eyes Wide Open to teach students about healthy and unhealthy relationships.

At DeKalb High School students enrolled in a jobs after graduation course take three days off to participate in the teen dating violence class.

Community Educator for the YWCA, Lindsey Durham, covers things like good communication, boundaries, warning signs and creating a safety plan. Durham says teen dating violence looks different compared to domestic violence.

To show students about warning signs, they watch a video on the second day of the class showing what teen dating violence looks like.

“It’s pretty much showing how unhealthy things can happen even with texting, messaging, facebooking, just different things like that, to show that’s it’s not just pushing, shoving, hitting. It’s a lot of other unhealthy things that are going on,” said Durham.

The course changes depending on the audience. When Durham visits middle schools she talks about cyberbullying, sexting and boundaries.

For the high school students Durham focuses on recognizing unhealthy traits that are common in teens, like jealousy or coercion. She says maybe somethings are common but that doesn’t equal healthy.

Durham also has tips for parents. 

“Set your pride aside. Maybe your kid doesn’t want to talk to you about those things and that’s okay. And just offering them other adults or people that you might know maybe an aunt or an uncle that can talk to your child about this a little bit better,” said Durham.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Toolkit