Yet these victims are at more risk for experiencing mental-health problems or engaging in binge drinking, fights, suicide attempts, and sexual activity.
In one of Expect Respect’s programs, separate groups of boys and girls meet with a licensed counselor during the school day if they have experienced dating violence or witnessed it at home.
Having a supportive peer group reduced violence among the most vulnerable students, Ms. A decade ago, Expect Respect also began asking student groups around the city to develop projects to educate peers about dating violence.
For example, a group of students trained to educate peers about bullying and teen dating violence at Austin’s Liberal Arts and Science Academy high school noticed recently that one of their members had a black eye.
They immediately asked her if it happened in a relationship.
It was actually the result of a rugby accident, she told them, but they were the only people in school who expressed concern about it.
The trial that started Wednesday in Steubenville, Ohio, has brought to light the disturbing regularity of dating and sexual violence among teenagers and how peers often stand idly by – or, in some cases, even post videos to Facebook.
In Ohio, a judge will decide if two teenage boys raped a 16-year-old girl after a party.
The case garnered international attention when accusations arose about the boys being protected as members of a popular football team.
Social media postings suggested that students knew of, and joked about, the alleged attack. Teen-dating abuse – physical, sexual, or psychological – affects 9 percent to 34 percent of adolescents in the United States, according to a recent article published online by the journal Pediatrics.
Fifteen states have now passed laws to require or urge schools to include teen dating violence prevention in the curriculum, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched an million initiative last year aimed at preventing teen dating violence among 11- to 14-year olds. “Most people wouldn’t [rape,] but speaking up when you see something wrong, that’s harder,” says Barri Rosenbluth, director of the Expect Respect program at Safe Place, the nonprofit that has partnered with the Austin Independent School District since 1988.
A primary focus is teaching students to be “courageous bystanders” – stepping in either to stop the violence directly or to report it. Students want to do the right thing, she says, but adults and trained peers need to help them “figure out what gets in the way,” and how to overcome it.
In that effort, an alliance between a nonprofit and a school district in Austin, Texas, has emerged as a national model.“There were kids at that [Ohio] party that knew that [something] was wrong… Expect Respect has offered training to educators around the country, but not many school districts have taken on the issue of dating violence in a comprehensive way.
Eight out of 10 school counselors surveyed said their school has no protocol to respond to such violence, and 9 out of 10 said there had been no training in the past two years to assist victims, the Pediatrics article reports.