How serious is dating violence for high-school students? According to the Denver-based National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 1.5 million high-school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year. It isn’t too surprising, then, that 57 percent of teenagers report knowing somebody who has been physically, sexually or verbally abused in a relationship.
Statistics look bleaker on college campuses, where one in five women will be sexually assaulted during their tenure. In an effort to prevent dating violence in teens and young adults, the NCADV is developing a novel curriculum that will give educators in middle and high schools the tools they need to broach the touchy subject of dating violence.
“Students as young as twelve were coming to their teachers with concerns [about dating violence], and teachers weren’t quite sure how to respond,” says Gretchen Shaw, associate director for NCADV.
Calls were coming into NCADV from educators across the nation, who were asking if there was a curriculum available on the topic of teen dating violence. When Shaw and her cohorts started digging around, they realized that "while there was some curriculum out there, most of it wasn’t accessible, or it wasn’t easy to digest and implement in the classroom.”
NCADV got to work on filling in that gap. The organization’s forthcoming Take a Stand Youth Curriculum — available this fall — will contain six interactive online learning modules accompanied by a series of easy-to-integrate lesson plans for youth ages twelve to eighteen. The curriculum is free, and resources are meant to give educators a user-friendly way to incorporate dating-violence topics into lessons and activities they’re already doing in the classroom.
“Teachers are so overwhelmed trying to meet academic requirements that introducing new topics can be a huge challenge,” Shaw says. “We’re working on building lessons around subjects teachers are already teaching."
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NCADV’s curriculum will identify and address the various forms of abuse, introduce questions for candid discussions, and also teach students ways to help friends and classmates who might be experiencing abuse.
Early interaction, Shaw explains, is key to breaking the pattern of domestic violence. Hence, lesson plans will be tailored to individual age and grade levels, so that children as young as twelve can begin learning about the topic. “The earlier kids have information about this, the more empowered they’ll be,” says Shaw.
NCADV is partnering with Discovery Education, a leading provider of digital education content for K-12 classrooms serving 4.5 million educators worldwide. Funding for Take a Stand Youth Curriculum comes from Verizon Communications. For more information, visit NCADV’s website.