WHY DO SCHOOL DISTRICTS NEED TO GET INVOLVED?
The education of teens regarding sexual, domestic and other violence issues is critical. Teen dating violence and violence in general are growing epidemics among today’s youth. This is no longer a problem that can be solely addressed at home. Violence is a continued and growing problem in schools and communities which creates an atmosphere of fear that impedes the learning process.
Sexual behavior problems, sexual bullying, and sexual harassment in K-12 occur frequently. Bullying was ranked as the biggest problem effecting students ages 8-15 and sexual bullying, especially regarding sexual orientation, one of the most frequent forms of abuse. The media is filled with images that pair sex with violence and advertising messaging sells sex devoid of meaning, significance, or responsibility. Additionally, parents continue to be hesitant about proactively talking about sex and sexuality with their children. Due to these factors, young people are lacking the communication, empathy, compassion, accountability, and impulse control skills needed for healthy relationships, friendships, and respectful interactions.
Dating abuse among middle and high school students is a serious problem that contributes to sexual violence as well as domestic violence issues in adulthood. Due to normalization, students do not have a clear understanding of what constitutes abuse or what a healthy relationship looks like. Currently less than 25% of teens are reached with adequate safe date prevention education programs. It was found in the “Impact of the Economy and Parent/Teen Dialogue on Dating Relationships and Abuse Survey 2009,” that parents are ineffective in educating their children regarding the dangers of dating abuse. The survey found that 74% of boys and 66% of girls said that they have never had a dialogue with their parents on these issues. In addition, the majority of teens in abusive relationships have not talked to their parents about their problem.
The survey did find that 75% of teens who have been taught about dating abuse say it helped them to recognize the signs of abuse and avoid abusive relationships. Violence awareness and education is desperately needed with all school districts.
In a report commissioned by Liz Claiborne, Inc. and the Family Violence Prevention Fund, “Troubled Economy Linked to Increase of Teen Dating Violence and Abuse Survey 2009,” it was found that 67% of teens who witnessed abuse in their household also experienced some form of violence or abuse in their own dating relationships. This is a 50% higher rate of dating abuse as compared to teens who have not witnessed domestic violence in the home.
How Can We Change the Statistics?
It is a fact that unhealthy behaviors become cyclical and generational if left uninterrupted. It is also evident that education and public awareness has had a positive impact in prevention and that this cycle can be broken through compassion, intervention and providing the opportunity to learn healthy choices. The Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County strives to break the cycle of violence so that children will not adopt the destructive behaviors exhibited by parents. We educate children and families regarding vulnerability to predators over the internet, bullying and dating violence and educate the community regarding how to recognize at-risk children and intervene.
SAVE4 is a comprehensive school-based violence prevention program aimed specifically at breaking the cycle of violence. Focused on E to the 4th power, the program strives to Engage, Empower, Encourage and Educate students regarding healthy behaviors and violence prevention. A proactive program, SAVE4 focuses on altering social norms by changing not only school responses to violent incidents, but community responses as well. Focusing on precursors or antecedents of violent behavior with the assumption that by targeting behaviors that predict violence such as bullying and impulsive behavior, and combining education regarding other relevant youth issues such as dating violence, gender representation by the media and sexual stereotypes, parameters of healthy dating relationships, alcohol use and sexual activity, more serious manifestations of aggression will be prevented and young people will be equipped with the tools needed to help protect themselves and make better choices.
SAVE4 ties the full range of teen violence issues to other adolescent concerns and teach conflict management skills and healthy behaviors. SAVE4 addresses teen issues in a connected way in order to help build skills including healthy behaviors, relationships and lifestyles, conflict management and resolution, problem solving, critical thinking, compassion, accountability, impulse control, confidence, and self esteem. Learning projects empower students to get involved in hands-on efforts to prevent violence. The projects teach students to put the practical knowledge and information they have learned from the program into action through service-oriented projects that provide after-action reflection. Peer facilitation of violence awareness and education lessons and events is a vital component of SAVE4. By encouraging positive peer influences within the school and community through violence prevention efforts, students gain their own voice; one that is empowered and serves as a role model to other students and the wider community.
Start a SAVE4 Program in Your School
All programs are presented by dynamic, certified teachers. To schedule a program or start SAVE4 at your school, contact the Crisis Shelter at 724-652-9036 and ask for the Education Supervisor.
SAVE4 (Students Against Violence Everywhere) – A national, non-profit organization created by students for students that promotes the virtues of civility and respect by helping students of all ages learn how to care for other people. SAVE4 is the Crisis Shelter’s Chapter which promotes the 4 E’s: Engage, Empower, Encourage & Educate.
SAVE4’s mission is to decrease the potential for violence in schools and communities by promoting meaningful student involvement, education and service opportunities in efforts to provide safer environments for learning.
• Engages students in meaningful violence prevention efforts within their school and community,
• Empowers youth with knowledge and skills necessary to provide service to their community and school,
• Encourages positive peer influences within the school and community through violence prevention efforts,
• Encourages students to be advocates within the school and their community through violence prevention efforts,
• Educates students about the effects and consequences of violence as well as safe activities for students, parents, and the community.
• Builds resiliency skills through problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making,
• Promotes peaceful conflict management strategies, positive anger management techniques and healthy behaviors,
• Increases awareness of parents, teachers, school administrators and the community through student led programs
College Level: At the college level SAVE4 is incorporated as a club. This club is facilitated by the Crisis Shelter Education Supervisor along with a club advisor who is also a professor. Members of the club then construct violence prevention programs that are presented to the rest of the collegiate student body and within the larger community. The club will also organize training for professors and other staff members that address their role as educators regarding prevention and intervention in violence issues. The training, although arranged and promoted by the club members, is conducted by the Crisis Shelter Education and Training staff members. The members of the SAVE4 club also co-facilitate lessons and group activities to high school students.
Grades 7-12: Much like the program at the collegiate level, SAVE 4 is organized as a school sponsored club in grades 7-12 which is facilitated by the Crisis Shelter Education Supervisor along with a club advisor who is also a teacher within the school. Members of the club organize violence prevention programs within the school including in-school rallies and will also work with teacher, parents and administrators to outline safety procedures, arrange for training, and advocate for broader awareness within the school, ultimately striving for changes in behavior. Members of the SAVE4 club also co-facilitate lessons and group activities to elementary school students and serve as ambassadors of the issue and program to other school districts. Conducting community outreach programs is a vital component of the high school SAVE4 program. By having young people take teen violence issues to the community, they are taking a stand against the issues that are relevant to them and empowering themselves and the community to affect change.
Grades K-6: In grades K-6 comprehensive violence prevention education is integrated into the classroom and taught as regular lessons throughout the year by a Prevention Education Specialist. Students will participate in activities in conjunction with the high school SAVE4 club program.
Leadership Retreat: The SAVE4 Leadership Retreat Weekend brings high school student leaders from across school districts to discuss the programs being developed within each school district, share ideas, foster cross-district partnerships and gain information and insight from outside speakers.
Other Anti-Violence & Prevention Programs
Anti-violence & prevention education programs offered by the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County:
PreK-4 – Personal Safety – Students learn the difference between a good touch and a bad touch and how to respond if someone tries to break the Safe Touch Rule. This program empowers children and gives them ownership of their body.
PreK-12 – Internet Safety – Age appropriate lessons regarding pitfalls for children online—Definition of stranger, sharing personal information, chat rooms, instant messaging, social networking sites, online language, email, and online gaming.
4th-8th – Bullying/Cyber Bullying – Students learn different forms and examples of bullying as well as assertive victim response. Students are educated and encouraged to participate in bystander intervention.
5th-8th– Healthy Relationships— Students learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. The students identify what important to them and how they want to be treated in a relationship. The students learn about different forms of abuse; physical, sexual, mental/verbal and examples of each.
5th-12th– Sexting – Sexting is defined as well as possible repercussions for participating in sexting. Various scenarios are discussed as well as what someone should do if they were a recipient.
9th-10th —Statutory Sexual Assault – Explanation what statutory sexual assault is and law pertaining to it. The students are engaged in a discussion of various scenarios and how to handle them.
9th-12th — Healthy Relationships & Dating Abuse – Different forms of abuse are identified as well as examples of each. The students participate in an activity where they must make choices about remaining in a relationship or breaking up. The students learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy behaviors and characteristics in relationships as well as warning signs of abuse.