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Reasons to Work through Schools

Schools are uniquely positioned to address domestic and dating violence and to promote positive alternatives.

Schools offer an opportunity unlike any other for prevention efforts that can make teens more aware of violence in relationships and help prepare children of all ages for healthy relationships. Most young people spend the majority of their time outside the home at school, where they form friendships and learn from adults. A fundamental educational goal is to make sure schools are safe and positive learning environments, and that goal aligns closely with violence prevention work.

Schools influence social norms for gender-based behavior.

The social norms that encourage or condone violence exist in our schools as well as the wider world. At the same time, healthy norms that are hidden can be brought into the open to inhibit violence. For example, boys are often uncomfortable with the social norms of masculinity and the behaviors of men. School prevention programs can validate this discomfort and help boys express their opposition to abusive behavior when they witness it, transforming young men into empowered bystanders. For example, see the case studies on Mentors in Violence Prevention and on the social norms approach.

Prevention is effective and strengthens schools.

A growing number of successful programs and case studies, coupled with recent tragedies, have empowered advocates for school-based violence prevention programs. As these programs have developed, insights about what works have emerged. In particular, most violence happens in the context of personal relationships. Thus, violence prevention programs that focus on helping students develop attitudes and skills important for healthy relationships have promise. For example, the case study of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network is a good illustration of the impact that school-based prevention programs can have on the culture of an entire school.

Punitive, post-crisis responses will not end violence.

Because punitive approaches have limited effectiveness and unintended negative consequences, prevention must be a priority. By engaging young men and boys with their peers and adult mentors, we can make them partners in these initiatives and active participants in increasing school safety as well as ending violence against women and girls.

Reflection Questions

  • Do you see schools as a positive and safe environment for youth?
  • What can make the school environment unsafe and intimidating?
  • How can gender-based violence prevention programs help improve the school environment?

Discussion Board

Discuss some of the reasons for working through schools and how violence prevention work can make schools safer, better learning environments.

Created by admin
Last modified 2004-08-29 04:26 PM

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