Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships (Start Strong) is a program of the Division of Violence Prevention aimed at working with young people as the solution to ending teen dating violence. Start Strong is an innovative grass-roots effort focused on 11 to 18 year olds to prevent teen dating violence and abuse by actively promoting healthy relationships. We are working together with teens, parents, caregivers, educators, healthcare professionals, domestic violence advocates, and community leaders to build environments that support healthy relationships and ensure violence and abuse are never tolerated.
A youth development framework guides Start Strong's work. Start Strong high school Peer Leaders undergo an intensive 6 week training, teaching them to become young experts in the field of dating violence prevention and healthy relationship promotion.
Our curriculum focuses on media literacy and understanding systemic oppression. Media literacy plays a large role in helping them understand systems of oppression and how they intersect with teen dating violence. We place a specific emphasis on racism, gender equity, homophobia, and adultism.
The focus of our work covers four main areas. First, we educate and engage youth in and out of school. Secondly, we work with a group of 25 older teens who serve as peer leaders in their communities. Thirdly, the peer leaders work on media campaigns aimed at preventing dating violence among teenagers in Boston and increasing their healthy relationship skills. Lastly, we work with schools, community groups and youth serving agencies to implement our tools so that they support young people in engaging in healthy relationships.
The goal of this teen dating violence prevention effort is to go beyond individual prevention tactics to build community-wide, well researched prevention model that will have a significant impact on young people in Boston. By including Boston young people every part of the programming, from planning to implementation, we are making sure that we are not just talking about teens, but that we are also talking to them and with them and helping them part of the solution to the very serious issue of teen dating violence.
For more information, please see our community handout
Start Strong values the voices of young people in the fight to end relationship abuse. As a result, we hire and train high school peer leaders to help spread our healthy relationship messaging. Start Strong Peer Leaders are high school students that are available to work year round with Start Strong. Peer Leaders are paid minimum wage and must be available between July-August from 9-3:30, and after school from September to May from 3:30-6:00 Tuesday to Thursday. We offer flexibility for those that have after school activities.
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