Carson High freshmen get lesson in healthy relationships | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson High freshmen get lesson in healthy relationships

As a part of Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, the Advocates to End Domestic Violence spent Tuesday teaching Carson High freshman about the importance of healthy relationships.

Two advocates were presenting to Erin Been's ninth grade health class Tuesday and today to illustrate the warning signs and dangers of being in an unhealthy relationship.

"One in three teens is a victim of violence, that is a higher rate than for an adult so we need to educate them and show them that there is a place to go if they need help," said Traci Trenoweth, Advocates to End Domestic Violence's sexual assault response advocates program coordinator. "We want them to understand at a young age what the red flags are so if they are ever in that kind of relationship they can be aware of it."

Trenoweth and her partner Becca Singleton took the students through a variety of activities to exemplify how dating violence appears in relationships as well as in society.

"When we see it all the time, we become desensitized," Trenoweth said to the class. "We don't realize that we see these things and we don't realize that it is happening."

Much of the lesson focused on red flags in relationships such as isolation, manipulation, belittling and more.

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"It is good to start (teaching them about domestic violence) now because they are starting to mature and understand and connect those dots," Been said. "We want to teach them now before they need help instead of while they are going through it."

The students learned how many popular movies, songs and television shows normalize teen dating behaviors.

"It gives them a different perspective because they will protest to us, thinking that some of these things aren't abusive and we love to have that debate with them," Singleton said. "And sometimes it redefines these things for them because currently they are getting their ideas about relationships from friends or social media and those aren't great learning tools."

For many of the students, this was the most surprising part.

"(The most surprising part) is that a relationship can go that far of a level to hit your lover," said freshman Bea Biscasan.

Singleton said often at the beginning of the presentation the students will debate on behaviors they see as normal that aren't.

"It is the social norm to be OK with some things like some humiliation and repeat texts or texts and the question becomes of when it crosses the line, when it can turn into stalking behavior," Trenoweth said. "Teens think these things are normal and they have to know when it crosses that line of 'hey what are you doing?' to 'where are you?' 'who are you with?' 'what are you doing?'"

The two have been teaching this class for Been for nearly six years.

"We get good feedback, we have had victims come forward later because of the connection they made with us during the presentation because they feel like they can open up," Trenoweth said. "We have had some students pull us aside right after the class to say 'what can I do?'"

For Been, exposing her students to this lesson is beneficial to their growth and wellbeing.

"With social media and violence in movies they are so exposed to it at a young age," Been said. "They need to know what violent behavior entails because it isn't just physical that goes into that abuse."

And having the Advocates come to the classroom helps bring a face to necessary resources so students are more inclined to reach out for help.

"We always bring them in for the psycho-violence because we want that introduction for connections to resources," Been said. "If a student is in need, now they have a face to the name to reach out to for help."

"If we can reach just one student or even if they can recognize it for someone else, that is the best thing we can do."

The presentation has reached more than 600 Carson High students over the last six years as a way to load them with resources from the community.

"We want to put the students with people, with members of the community to build that relationship and knowledge," Been said.

Teen Violence Statistics

Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year.

One in three teens experience some type of physical, emotional, sexual or verbal abuse.

One in 10 high school students has been purposefully physically hurt by their partner.

Girls between 16 and 24 experience nearly three times the national average for partner violence.

Violent behavior typically begins between 12 and 18 years old.

Only 33 percent of teens in a violent relationship told anyone about the abuse.

One in three teens reports knowing a friend or peer who has been physically hurt by a partner and 45 percent of girls know a friend or peer who has been pressured into sexual acts by a partner.

Source: loveisrespect.org, Family Violence Prevention Fund