Giving Teens the Tools They Need to Date Safe
Did you know that 54% of girls between ages 15 and 19 experience sexual coercion in dating relationships1 or that youth experiencing violence, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, can experience devastating mental health impacts, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and substance use?2
In response to the widespread issue of gender-based violence in Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada is investing $40 million over five years in programs aiming to prevent gender-based violence from a health perspective. YWCA Metro Vancouver is one of 24 organizations to receive funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada to promote healthy relationships and prevent dating violence among teens and youth. YWCA Metro Vancouver will lead a project to pilot the new Dating Safe program for youth.
Upon receiving funding, the YWCA embarked on a needs assessment, which included a comprehensive literature review, interviews and focus groups with experts, youth and educators. It became clear that a gap exists in dating violence prevention programming in high schools.
Our goal for Dating Safe is to provide youth with the knowledge and skills to develop healthy relationships that are free from violence and abuse.
To do this, we will implement an eight-module program as part of the Physical Health and Education classes to all Grade 8 students. The topics covered include: Healthy Relationship Skills, Communication Skills, Building Consent Culture, Social Media and Dating, Understanding Dating Violence, Gender Stereotypes and Dating Violence, Intoxication Culture and Bystander Intervention. These will be accompanied in the following years with booster modules for grades 9 and 10 students to build on previously learned skills and dive deeper into issues they will face as older students.
The curriculum was developed through a lens that is trauma-informed and culturally safe, and reflects LGBTQ2+ youth experiences.
As part of this initiative, the YWCA is partnering with Reciprocal Consulting to undergo a program evaluation to determine whether the program leads to changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours related to dating violence.
Before the grant finishes in 2023, the YWCA will offer train-the-trainer sessions and a best practices toolkit to schools to ensure they feel equipped to deliver the material, if they wish to continue the program beyond 2023.
The YWCA is excited to start the program in Vancouver in November 2019, with a second program in Surrey beginning in January 2020.
2 Ryan C. Shorey, Heather Zucosky, Hope Brasfield, Jeniimarie Febres, Tara L. Cornelius, Chelsea Sage, Gregory L. Stuart, “Dating Violence Prevention Programming: Directions for Future Interventions,” Aggression and Violent Behaviour 17 (2012): 290.
For more information on Dating Safe or to support Youth programs, contact Vanessa Wellington-Clark at 604 895 5826 | firstname.lastname@example.org.