By Anitra, youth organizer
Last week, students at Conrad High School in Dallas, TX joined with educators for a workshop that focused on identifying healthy vs. unhealthy relationship behaviors.
In a unique twist, the students became the teachers and led the event using the Educators Toolkit, developed by loveisrespect. The educators participated in two activities from the toolkit. One activity was completing the loveisrespect relationship spectrum and discussing various behaviors to identify if they were healthy, unhealthy or abusive. The second activity was a group discussion about an unhealthy relationship situation.
Both activities provided opportunities for students and educators to share their perspectives on different relationship behaviors. Some of the behavior descriptions that were not easily identifiable as being unhealthy or abusive led to discussions about how people can have different views as to what is abusive. For example, one of the behaviors was: “My partner controls/monitors my social media accounts.” Although this behavior is a sign of digital abuse, there were some participants who felt that it was not abusive. One educator pointed out that the use of the word “control” would mean this behavior was abusive.
During both activities, some participants expressed that labeling certain behaviors as unhealthy or abusive can be difficult. One educator noted that in different cultures, certain behaviors are seen as normal or traditional, so it would be difficult to label a behavior – such as a partner monitoring social media – as abusive. This was a good point, but it’s important to remember that there is no excuse for abuse, and abuse is never okay. Although sometimes abusive behaviors can be difficult to identify, a combination of multiple unhealthy behaviors is a red flag for an abusive relationship.
All in all, it was so great to see students and teachers working together to create an open dialogue! Principal Shanna Jones said, “The [workshop] held at Conrad High School was a breakthrough in building healthy relationships campus-wide. It allowed the students to feel more comfortable with their peers, teachers, counselors and administrators.” Both students and teachers recognized that dating abuse is a serious issue and that having these conversations can lead to better education about healthy and abusive relationships. The event was a great success, and many of the participants felt it made a positive impact on their views of relationships!