UNCW Students Teach Middle School Students How to Prevent Relationship Violence March 21

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dating abuse is beginning as early as sixth grade and one in four high schools students report having experienced abuse. The University of North Carolina Wilmington and the Rape Crisis Center of Coastal Horizons Center, Inc. have teamed up to prevent abuse before it happens with an innovative prevention mentoring program using a curriculum called Safe Dates. Throughout each semester, UNC Wilmington students teach local eighth-grade students how to avoid potentially abusive relationships.

The media can view the college students teaching teens at 12:55 -1:45 p.m. or 1:50 -2:40 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21 at Holly Shelter Middle School in Castle Hayne.

Safe Dates is an evidence-based dating abuse and sexual assault prevention program that deals with attitudes and behaviors associated with dating abuse and violence. The program works with students to help them understand the prevalence of dating abuse and find ways to have equal communication with their partners and engage in healthy behaviors. Coastal Horizons staff began training UNCW students to teach the Safe Dates curriculum last semester.

As Safe Dates instructors, twenty UNCW Comprehensive School Health Education students are gaining real world experience that will give them an edge when competing for jobs. The student instructors are responsible for all aspects of the classroom environment - from lesson preparation to addressing concerns raised by the eighth-grade students.

Katie Bennett, rape prevention education coordinator for the Rape Crisis Center of Coastal Horizons Center, said, "This partnership is an ideal fit because middle school students look up to the college students. They see them as trustworthy people they can respect."

Safe Dates teaches relationship abuse and sexual assault prevention, an aspect of health education that has been long been overlooked. The educational program is part of a growing national movement aimed at ending violence with prevention-based education as opposed to the traditional victim-based education.

Safe Dates is currently in six New Hanover County middle schools. The program does not contain any sexually explicit information and it does not promote or push dating.

Media contact:
Joy Davis, UNCW media relations, 910.632.3903 or davisjc@uncw.edu