Millions of young people in the United States have experienced teen dating violence and to bring awareness to Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month, a local school district launched a pilot program that aims to educate students on the matter. 

The Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) passed a Teen Violence resolution which recognizes this month as a time for prevention. The district’s Compliance Office has worked on a pilot for a few years to develop eight, 25-minute module training to educate students on dating violence and sexual harassment. 

“We have seen a lot since we got back from the pandemic and students didn't have that continuity, they did not have that behavioral supports, and they didn't have those educators to teach them how to be good to one another,” said Robert Hughes, SUHSD Chief Compliance Officer. 

With the pilot program, Hughes said the interactive modules will teach students district policies and administrative regulations surrounding expectations for behavior, identifying situations, preventative steps, and how to receive help. 

According to the district’s Chief of Educational Equity and Support Services, Dr. Vernon Moore, the female student population has been affected the most by these issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in 11 female teens and one in 15 male teens reported experiencing physical violence in the last year. 

Dating violence can take place in person, online, or through technology, and it is a type of intimate partner violence that can include physical or sexual violence, psychological aggression, and stalking.

Every year, one in 10 high school students, is physically hurt on purpose by a dating partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Psychological Association report that one in three teens ages 14 to 20 have experienced dating abuse, and about the same number say they have committed dating abuse themselves. 

The rate of dating violence is higher among lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB) teens as 43 percent reported experiencing physical dating violence, compared to 29 percent of heterosexual youth. 

It is reported that 59 percent of LGB teens reported emotional abuse, compared to 46 percent of heterosexual youth; and 50 percent of Transgender youth reported experiencing sexual violence at some point in their lives. 

According to the SUHSD, nearly half of students who experience dating violence have reported that some of the abuse took place on school grounds. Survivors of teen dating violence have an increased risk for truancy, dropout, teen pregnancy, suicide, having eating disorders, and engaging in other harmful behaviors such as the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

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