Friendship Home has been meeting the needs of survivors of intimate partner violence since 1978. Through access to safe emergency shelter and crisis services, literally thousands of survivors and their children have left a violent and abusive relationship. But we see, first hand, the devastation of that violence, families that are broken, physically, mentally and emotionally. Friendship Home can help heal and restore but what if we were part of the process of preventing that anguish? There is currently an opportunity to engage and be part of the solution that can and will literally save lives, reducing trauma and turmoil.
Friendship Home wants to be on the forefront of ending intimate partner/dating and sexual violence through prevention education. To be proactive rather than reactive. Providing primary prevention to youth within the Lincoln Public Schools (grades 8-12) using an evidence-based curriculum so students can participate in setting safe social expectations among their peers, expectations that are intolerant of violence and support assisting one another. When these expectations are set and maintained through small daily choices, violence, abusive and destructive acts are less likely to occur.
There is considerable research that children and youth are deeply affected by the violence in their homes. The effects of domestic violence have serious implications on students' behaviors and well-being. In older children it can include self-blame, depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, substance use, risk-taking behaviors and poor social networks. It also informs us that experiencing domestic violence differs along gender lines. Girls are more likely to internalize by withdrawing, isolating, experiencing anxiety and depression; whereas boys, though still susceptible to anxiety and depression, are prone to externalizing symptoms through violence against peers or antisocial behaviors. That same research discovered that when young people are listened to, taken seriously, and invited to join in finding solutions these are key elements to helping them cope.
It is our belief that relationship knowledge and skills can and should be as fundamental as reading, writing and arithmetic. Prevention education is all about relationships, by using a thematic engaged approach to reduce risky behaviors, such as violence and bullying, unsafe sexual behaviors, and substance use. Behaviors that often overlap because they happen within the context of relationships.
Involving students in education about safety and risk, rather than just telling them, builds resiliency for future difficulties. They are then better equipped with the skills they need to build healthy relationships and to help themselves and their peers reduce the risk of violence.
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