get teens talking about dating abuse

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month has just begun, creating a perfect opportunity to educate and engage with teens in discussions about communication in relationships and friendships.
JWI just launched “Love Your Neighbor, Love Yourself: Building Healthy Relationships,” in partnership with United Synagogue Youth (USY). This interactive program is providing USY educators around the United States with essential interactive resources to educating teens about healthy relationships. We would like to share two activities from the book; use them to help teens you know think about how they communicate in relationships and friendships.

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Activity 1: What is bullying and why do people pick on others?

Before giving teens the definition, brainstorm as a collective group definition and preconceived notions teens have of a bully. After listening to teens input and ideas, present the teens with the actual definition of a bully. Here is the definition we suggest providing: A bully is someone who repeatedly intimidates, defends, insults, or humiliates, Bullying can be physical, verbal (name-calling, taunting, insulting), or emotional (alliance building, silent treatment, shunning, spreading nasty gossip and online or cyber-bullying). It is deliberate and hurtful behavior, usually repeated over a period of time. Bullying is almost always done to kids who are perceived to be vulnerable.

After discussing this “textbook” definition of bullying, make teens aware of other types of bullying that exist and they may be experiencing such as “relational aggression.” These are situations in which social relationships are used as the means to harm a peer. Additionally, because of many reality shows, such as Gossip Girl, this behavior may be seen as ‘normal’ or desirable. Some examples of this type of behavior can include unspoken rules and exclusionary behavior.

Lastly, discuss with teens if this is normal acceptable behavior and how they feel about that.

Activity 2: Make teens aware of how technology has influenced communication in relationships and friendships and talk with them about cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is a new way of bullying and can be far more devastating than in-person bullying-its spreads quickly and reaches far more people. Some methods of cyberbullying include texting, sexting (sexting is broadcasting nude or semi-nude photos by cell phone text messaging), emailing, chat rooms, blogs, websites, sending photos, and posting fake profiles.

Ask teens to individually look back at their text message “sent messages” folder at some of the text messages they’ve recently sent to friends.

Would they want their mom/dad/teacher/principal to see these messages?

Have teens delete the ones they wouldn’t want them to see as a sign of their commitment to ending cyberbullying

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We hope these two activities will inspire a larger discussion among teens – during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and beyond. Please contact us and let us know if you used the activities – we’d love to hear from you!

One response to “get teens talking about dating abuse

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