Local School Fighting Teen Violence

February 14, 2008 9:53:26 PM PST
A high school in South San Francisco is taking a rather innovative approach to teen dating violence. A three-day curriculum teaches students to identify the signs of abuse, prevent it, and know where to get help. It's a story parents will want to hear.

"He's going to get me chocolates, he's going to get me flowers, he'll tell me he loves me, he's sorry and then it's going to start all over again," says teacher Nadia Oskolkoff.

By now you've probably figured out she's talking about the cycle of domestic violence.

These El Camino High School students are learning abuse can happen early, about the same time they're discovering sex.

"They are having sex a lot earlier. I think with the lyrics that are out today, today's music, the media, sex is crammed down young minds. It's all around them," says Oskolkoff.

And there is a connection between early sex and abuse. A survey of teens ages 11 to 14 showed 69 percent who had sex by age 14 said they were victims of verbal or physical abuse by their boyfriends and the number of abuse cases among all teen girls was 48 percent.

Others say the numbers may be lower.

Public service announcement: "I wasn't fine. One in five teens in serious relationships report physical abuse. Talk to your kids about dating violence."

The CDC statistics also look a bit different. The Centers for Disease Control have found that one in 11 high school students has been a victim of dating violence.

"One student is one student too many so it shouldn't happen," says Oskolkoff.

Thursday's program focused on how to identify the signs of abuse and how to prevent it.

"I've learned to be more assertive and think that although I love this person, I can love them and help them instead of just standing there and take the abuse," says student Kenya Garrett.

"We shouldn't be like that as men and we just learn to treat women with respect and treat them they way the deserve to be treated," says student Rommel Aquino.

The curriculum is funded by designer Liz Claiborne through her program Love Is Not Abuse.

There's even advice for parents of teens who are abused.

"Be supportive, listen and try not to criticize too much," says Oskolkoff.

This three-day curriculum is now taught in 3,000 schools around the nation.

To learn more this program, visit www.loveisnotabuse.com.