Statistics say one in 10 high school students report being purposely physically hurt by a boyfriend/girlfriend. Preventing teen dating violence and treating victims involves everyone, including parents, educators and peers. More and more, engaging men and boys in teen dating violence prevention is becoming an important piece of the prevention puzzle.
Safe Start Center Director Elena Cohen answers a few questions about how best to engage men and boys and why it’s important.
Why is it important to engage boys in teen dating violence prevention?
Teen dating violence is a significant public health concern in the U.S. Although there are a growing number of legal and social services for teens, we don’t have effective resources for helping men learn to recognize and take responsibility for their patterns of hurtful behavior. Some of these men have been exposed to violence themselves, and as a result, they feel the emotional, physical and mental impacts of this violence. Often men try not to pay attention to their pain and believe that an admission of difficulties is showing weakness and a proof of not being a “real man.” Sometimes violence is an attempt to cope with hidden pain.
Violence prevention requires a change in the social conditions that impact the community which make violence normal and acceptable. Men and boys receive, sort through, and enforce messages about relationships, violence and power every day. Men and boys also send powerful messages about relationships, violence, and power that affect members of society. Generally speaking, men have greater access to resources and opportunities to influence large social structures and institutions. They, as a result, play an important role to prevent teen dating violence
What ways/strategies have you found effective in reaching boys about teen dating violence prevention?
Young men are trained to be masculine in a way that leads to confusion, repression, isolation and domination. The understanding of what it takes to be a successful man is going through big changes. Teenagers are being called upon to develop new ways of relating to their emotions, their dating partners, even their work. This can easily leave young men feeling confused, disoriented and overwhelmed.