Promoting Healthy Teen Relationships: Mariposa’s Approach
In 2013, as part of a DELTA FOCUS grant, the Alliance for Community Transformations began an effort to engage the community of Mariposa, CA, and specifically the Mariposa County Unified School District in promoting healthy teen relationships and preventing dating abuse. Our organization, which includes two DV/SA programs, a youth drop-in center, a foster youth advocacy program, a recovery program, and a re-entry program is embracing the challenge of addressing all levels of the social ecology in order to prevent intimate partner violence. Our ultimate goal is to increase the amount of partners and champions within the education system who support a number of dating abuse prevention methods.
We are currently employing three strategies to accomplish our goal: informing school district policy related to dating abuse; communicating strategically about the issue of dating abuse prevention; and mobilizing the community to address dating abuse and community and social change. We have been accomplishing a wide range of activities related to these strategies so far. In the past couple of years we have been organizing a sub-committee of Alliance staff and community partners to develop dating abuse policy guidelines for the Mariposa County Unified School District, providing violence prevention based trainings and presentations for school district staff, sponsoring youth centered events in honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, and creating new narratives, frames and messages that promote healthy relationships. The strategic messages will be targeted to our primary audience, decision-makers within the education system in Mariposa County, but will also be intended for community partners, parents and caregivers, and youth.
While we expect to be successful in meeting our goals, there are numerous difficulties. While social change does happen, it is a gradual process. Influential people have limited time, and there is a lack of understanding and awareness of the issue of intimate partner violence and specifically dating violence. Yet we are fortunate that a significant number of people in our community believe that through cross-sector partnerships, dating violence prevention can be achieved. An important partnership, therefore, is the school district in our community. We are fortunate again that the school district wants continue to collaborate in order to maintain schools that have a safe and positive climate. It is our belief that supporting our schools in their quest for such a beneficial climate will emphasize the important role they play in promoting healthy teen relationships and preventing dating abuse.
About the Author:
Audrey Davis is the Prevention Specialist at Mountain Crisis Services, a program of the Alliance for Community Transformations in Mariposa, CA.