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LETTER: Schools take active role in dating safety

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Thank you for publishing Bill Stanczykiewicz’s column regarding teen dating violence April 4.

As a follow up, we wanted to ensure our local community is aware that all of the area schools have partnered with Crisis Connection Inc. on providing primary prevention education in support of Indiana’s Heather’s Law. This includes curriculum in the high-school classes called ‘Safe Dates’ and ‘Expect Respect’ at the junior-high level.

These research-based programs target the attitudes and behaviors associated with relational aggression. They help clearly define what a healthy dating relationship is, what dating abuse is, the potential causes and consequences of teen dating violence; as well as the key ways to prevent abuse from happening.

We understand that some parents don’t want their teens dating until they’re older. We don’t push or promote dating; it is our intent to prepare youth for the future when he or she may do so.

The goal of our programming is primarily to help kids be safe as they develop healthy relationships with all of their friends and peers.

We supplement this classroom education by participating in back-to-school events, Snowflake, health fairs, Too Good For Violence After-school programming and collaborating with partners such as the Perry County Substance Abuse Committee and United Way of Perry County.

We also facilitate a program for Tell City junior-high students titled, “Natural Helpers.” It is a peer-based helping concept where youth are taught the helping skill and learn about community resources so they can better help each other with their problems. At the recent retreat we hosted for them this month, we discussed tips on technology safety, including avoiding sexting and cyber bullying. See www.stopbullying.gov and www.thatsnotcool.com.

Adults play the most important role in keeping children smart and aware. The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence has an excellent tool developed by Hoosier teens for parents with some great communication tips at www.stand4respect.org.

We encourage everyone to watch a documentary titled, “Shadows of Innocence: Sexual Assault Among Indiana’s Youth” produced by Indiana Public Media. We would be happy to host a free screening for any employer, organization or group.

It shares some informative resources for becoming more aware and some eye-opening statistics including the fact that Indiana has the second highest rate in the nation of forced intercourse with high-school girls.

We encourage you to check out our Web site at www.crisisconnectioninc.org, Facebook page, Twitter or Pinterest accounts for helpful tools. Our hotline is available around the clock at (800) 245-4580. And because of a Perry County Power Of Youth grant, we have placed relevant books in our local libraries.

We are grateful for your ongoing support without which we could not continue our outreach.  Please do not hesitate to contact our agency if you have questions about or would like to further support our mission in any way. Speak up, Speak out!
 
JOAN M. KNIES
Community Education Specialist, Crisis Connection Inc.