This One’s for the Boys: DV Prevention Education for Young MenJuly 26, 2012
The lack of dating violence education in American public schools is hardly a surprise. But if you thought that DV awareness programs were rare, prevention programs are like an ice cube in the Sahara. When 1 in 5 female high school students between the ages of 14 to 18 reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a partner, it seems absurd that DV education and prevention efforts are virtually nonexistent, and if they do exist, they’re usually geared towards young women and girls. I haven’t the slightest complaint about that, but the domestic violence discussion is hardly one-sided.
Statistics have proven that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of abusive relationships, 85%, in fact. Granted, it’s absolutely necessary to equip teen girls with the knowledge and tools to cope with and avoid unhealthy relationships, but boys need to learn not to be abusers. The Young Men’s Mentorship Program at Becky’s Fund does just this, pairing young men with professional men in the DC Area. Dating violence is an important topic of discussion as well as gender stereotypes and roles and conflict resolution, all of which impact the effectiveness of violence prevention education. Thankfully, Becky’s Fund isn’t the only organization who recognizes the importance teach young men about violence prevention:
- The Men of Strength Club (MOST) is a program operated by Men Can Stop Rape, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. The MOST Club mobilizes young men to prevent sexual and dating violence while building individualized definitions of masculinity which promotes healthy relationships. The MOST Club has been quite successful; so successful that in 2003, the CDC identified it as among the top four gender violence prevention programs in the country. Today, the club’s curriculum is taught in over 100 schools in over 10 states like Florida, Maryland, and as far as California.
- Positive Choices Inc was started by local activist Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, a graduate of Dunbar High School. Founded over a decade ego, PC’s mission is to “provide an educationally, athletically, emotionally and socially enriched environment for economically disadvantaged inner-city youth”. One of its programs, Men of Valor, works with young men ages 11-19 and, through structured activity, helps young men obtain the skills necessary to become well-rounded and competent men and leaders.
- Boys to Men of Greater Washington is a program which, through mentoring, guides young men at the critical point of development, adolescence, through adulthood. The mentees are encouraged to participate in civic engagement, instilling in them pride in themselves and their community.
Prevention programs, when coupled with education in school at home can be incredibly effective. Though not all of the programs focus on dating violence specifically, there’s no doubt that the lessons learned, particularly those of respect, communication, and leadership are just some of the skills and characteristics that can lead to a future without violence.