Teen dating violence is an issue that affects as many as 1 in 3 young people, can interfere with their emotional health, physical health, and even their long-term goals.*  Research has shown that young people who are in an abusive relationship are more likely to be victims of more severe violence as adults.*  We here at Touchstone Health Services know that educating youth about healthy relationships and warning signs of abuse can assist in setting them up for healthy, safe relationships in the future.  We also know that intervention is key, but you can’t intervene if you don’t know there is a problem.  Not only do young people need education on the issue at hand, they also need to learn and be aware of resources in the community that can help them out if they or a friend are experiencing dating violence. That’s where we come in by implementing our Healthy Relationships Program with youth in Avondale to ensure young people are ready to meet these challenges, help a friend, and overall change the conversation about what’s healthy in a relationship.

The City of Avondale continues to recognize the importance of this issue in our community.  The city has supported our efforts to educate young people about teen dating violence through their Contributions Assistance Program since 2014.  The program offers financial support to nonprofit organizations like us who have a focus on meeting the needs of Avondale residents by providing high-quality programs and services.

The Healthy Relationships Program utilizes two curriculums with the young people we serve.  Safe Dates is an evidence-based, 10-session program that covers identifying healthy relationships, recognizing different types of abuse, challenging gender stereotypes, helping a friend, and preventing sexual violence.  In past years, we have implemented this program with youth in the community and in the school.  In 2017, we were able to reach approximately 383 youth at Agua Fria High School who participated in this impactful program.

The second curriculum, In Their Shoes, is a one-time, hour-long workshop in which young people take on the role of a teen in an abusive relationship and are guided through the teen’s story in the first-person language.  The discussion afterward uses examples from each story to focus on warning signs of abuse, different types of abuse, and key considerations for consent and preventing sexual assault.  Facilitators inform participants of all the local resources that can help them – school officials, local police departments, domestic violence shelters, and even the “Safe Place” at QuikTrip. In 2017, We were able to reach approximately 663 students at La Joya and Westview High School who participated in the In Their Shoes program.

We also use social media, brochures, and traditional media, such as the West Valley View newspaper to spread the message about healthy dating to the broader communities.

We are excited to offer these programs for another year, thanks to the City of Avondale’s 2017-2018 grant to our Healthy Relationships Program! We are eternally grateful for their support because, without them, we would not be able to promote the healthy and safe relationships that ALL teens deserve in Avondale and beyond. Thank you, City of Avondale!

* source: http://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/dating-violence-statistics/