Ending relationships without violence

Published On: Nov 27 2012 04:09:06 PM EST
Updated On: Nov 27 2012 10:15:00 PM EST

Ending a relationship is hard to do and as we've seen in cases around the country, even with teens it can become violent and sometimes deadly.  Technology can make it even more hurtful.  But now a new initiative is teaching kids how to control their impulses and break up the right way.

A recent federal survey found 10 percent of students reported being physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year.  Breaking up can be a dangerous thing to do and experts say social media is adding fuel to the fire.

“It’s either text or it’s either Facebook and everyone sees it and it’s just drama all over," said 15-year-old Trey Smith.

“The challenge of text breakups is there’s a character limit.  You can only say so much. You don’t get tone of voice, you don’t get body language,” said Casey Corcoran, Program Director of Futures Without Violence.

Corcoran says the problem is so widespread that teenagers now need to be taught how to stay safe when relationships end.

“There are concrete skills that go into healthy breakups. Teens need to know what they are and they need to have the opportunity to practice them in a safe environment,” said Corcoran.

The federal government, highs schools, colleges, hospitals and insurance companies are all investing in new teen violence prevention classes from coast to coast. 

The "Break-Up Summit," part of the Start Strong initiative, is now being taught on campuses nationwide.  It offers simple strategies to help teens break up better.

“We really want them to have the conversation around breakups and really make some decisions for themselves on how they’re going to be most respectful,” said Nicole Daley, who's with Start Strong and helps teach the "Break-Up Summit."

Daley says in this day and age, educators have to add a fourth "R" to their lesson plans: Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmetic and Relationships.

“There’s a lot on how to deal with the aftermath of a breakup but there’s not a lot that actually shares and talks about how do you want to have the conversation,” said Daley.

For example, the program advocates face-to-face breakups in most situations.

“It allows for body language, tone of voice.  It allows for dialog,” explained Corcoran.

And the program suggests a technology time-out.

“Posting something online is not the best decision. It usually serves to escalate the problem rather than de-escalate it. It involves more people than need to be involved and it can stay online forever," said Corcoran.

And while breakups will never be fun, if they're done with respect, they'll hurt a lot less.

“It’s really great to actually have a healthy way to breakup with a person. Even if you’re not friends, everything’s just neutral. So that person can move on,” said 15-year-old Trey Smith.

While the program does advocate face-to-face breakups for most relationships, proponents stress that an abusive relationship should be ended remotely.

From startstrong.org:  If at any time you feel that you or someone you know are in immediate danger, call 911. If you need support, there are people and resources available to help. For information and assistance anytime, contact:

National Dating Abuse Helpline
866-331-9474
866-331-8453 TTY

National Domestic Violence Hotline
800-799-SAFE (7233)
800?787?3224 TTY

National Sexual Assault Hotline
800?656?HOPE (4673)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
800?656?TALK (8255)

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