School Climate & Safety

Lessons in Love

By Jessica L. Tonn — July 12, 2005 1 min read

At least 10 high schools across the country will take part in a pilot program this fall aimed at reducing violence in teenage dating.

The Love Is Not Abuse curriculum, sponsored by the New York City-based clothing maker Liz Claiborne Inc. and developed by the Education Development Center, of Newton, Mass., is designed for 9th grade health and English classes.

It teaches students how to “recognize, respond to, and seek help for victims suffering relationship abuse,” according to a press release announcing the program last month.

In a series of three lessons, both male and female students will read brief literary texts—such as poetry and short stories—and then engage in discussion and written assignments.

They will also practice skills, such as approaching an adult for help with such violence, related to the texts’ content.

Teachers involved in the program will receive information about the prevalence of dating violence among teenagers and ways of helping students in abusive relationships, in addition to handouts and materials for classroom use.

A recent nationwide survey commissioned by Liz Claiborne found that 57 percent of teenagers responding said they knew friends who had experienced physical, sexual, or verbal abuse in dating relationships.

Only 33 percent of teenagers who had been in or known about abusive relationships said they had told someone.

Because of an overwhelming number of requests from educators for the curriculum materials after the program was announced in June, the pilot program likely will be expanded to an additional 10 schools later in the 2005-06 school year, Christine Blaber, the associate director of the Center for School and Community Health Programs at the EDC, said in an interview.

Millicent Fortunoff, a spokeswoman for Liz Claiborne, said that her company wants eventually to make the curriculum available nationwide.

The high school project is the latest effort in Liz Claiborne’s 14-year-old Love Is Not Abuse program, a national campaign to educate the public about relationship violence.

Information about the curriculum and the survey on teenage dating violence is available online at www.loveisnotabuse.com.

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