New City, N.Y.
Objective: To train a network of youths to provide information and assistance to teenagers who have been victimized by dating violence or sexual assault.
In a Nutshell: The Teen Dating Violence Prevention Program (TDVPP) targets middle and high school youth. The program provides training for peer groups, faculty and parent/teacher associations, who also help develop public surveys and canvass local youth events to improve the accuracy of measuring dating violence among teens in Rockland County, N.Y.
Where It Happens: The training sessions usually are held in the school closest to the group being trained.
When It Began: 1999.
Who Started It: The Rockland Family Shelter (RFS), a nonprofit emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. RFS had been conducting dating violence workshops in local high schools since 1984. But the 45-minute sessions did not provide enough time to discuss all the relevant issues.
Who Runs It: Coordinator Trisha Hannigan.
Early Obstacles: Convincing people that the program was valuable enough to set aside time. “It is a time-consuming program that is not mandated by the state,” Hannigan says. “So it was hard to find students, staff or parents that were willing to donate their time to learn this vital information.”
How They Overcame Them: The TDVPP conducted a pilot training with the Rockland County Youth Bureau’s Youth Council, composed of high school students from around the county. The council members volunteered to go through the training, then advocated for the program in their schools.
Cost: About $45,000 a year. Participation is free.
Who Pays: The Rockland County Department of Social Services, shelter fund-raising events and private donors.
Youth Served: Youth in all eight Rockland County school districts. More than 600 youth have been trained.
Youth Turn-On: They enjoy planning and implementing outreach programs such as “The Yellow Dress,” a monologue about a girl who was being abused by her boyfriend, and “Dating in the Millennium,” an informative event that uses interactive booths with game show themes.
Youth Turn-Off: The added burden of more class-like activities after a full day of classes.
What Still Gets in the Way: Some school administrations don’t believe dating violence is a significant cause for concern among teenagers. Finding a common time and location for youth to meet for the training can be difficult.