In a recent editorial published by the Delaware County Times, a murder case that occurred on May 25, 2013 was discussed. Julianne Siller, a senior at Spring-Ford Area High School, Royersford, PA was murdered on a park trail with Tristan Stahley, a “friend” and graduate of Perkiomen Valley High School, Collegeville, PA. Were these two teenagers boyfriend and girlfriend? No they were not, but according to court records the two were dating. Even though they were not dating, dating violence is serious and perhaps a comprehensive sexuality education program should teach teenagers (teens) about dating violence and healthy relationships.
What is Dating Violence?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014), dating violence is defined as the physical, sexual, or psychological/emotional violence as well as stalking that can occur within a dating relationship. A few examples of teen dating violence are:
- Relationship abuse
- Intimate partner violence
- Relationship violence
- Dating abuse
- Domestic abuse
- Domestic violence
What are the aspects of a healthy relationship?
According to Love is Respect, the key element to a healthy relationship is communication. Suggestions for creating and maintaining a healthy relationship include:
- Speaking up
- Respecting your partner
- Respecting each other’s privacy
According to Nemours, a healthy relationship consists of respect for one another, trust, honesty, support, fairness, separate identities, and good communication. In an unhealthy relationship, one of the individuals gets angry when his or her partner does not focus all attention on them as well as criticizes their partner, keeps him or her from seeing friends or from talking to any other males or females, and wants them to quit an extracurricular activity that they enjoy. They also might raise a hand when angry, physically abuse their partner, and/or try to force their partner into going further sexually. A healthy relationship curriculum can help students understand the aspects of a healthy relationship as well as give them.
Why Teach Teens About Healthy Relationships?
Not all teenagers are involved in romantic relationships, but many of them have friends whom they socialize with on a regular basis. With so many teenagers being bullied via social media and text message, and relationships being subjected to violence, it is important for teens to understand that having positive relationships with friends can yield positive outcomes. Many teens do not know what a healthy relationship should look like.
What Does a Healthy Relationship Curriculum Look Like?
Peace Over Violence has implemented In Touch With Teens Violence Prevention, a curriculum for junior high and high schools and other community based youth organizations. The curriculum has eight units, which cover the following aspects of relationship violence:
- Roots of Violence: Global & Local
- Roots of Violence: Power & Control
- Relationship Violence
- Cycle of Violence
- Sexual Harassment
- Issues of Sexual Assault & Coercive Control
- Media Impact on Gender & Violence
- Building Blocks of a Healthy Relationship
Another curriculum available to educators is Love is not Abuse. Unlike the curriculum by In Touch With Teens, this curriculum is in three lessons of 45 minutes each and discusses the following:
- Dating abuse
- Power and abuse
- Digital dating abuse
The curriculum by In Touch With Teens Violence Prevention is a good curriculum in that it provides teens with an overview of the various forms of violence as well as how to build a healthy relationship. The benefit of a healthy relationship curriculum is that it can be taught at any age and students can apply the information to any type of relationship regardless of whether it is a romantic relationship or a friendship.
There is not one curriculum available for healthy relationships. However, it is important for us current and future educators to consider creating a healthy relationships curriculum to include with comprehensive sexuality education.