February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and our Prevention team, which partners with local schools to teach about healthy relationships, knows how important this topic is today, and every day. We sat down with Christine Popp, School Based Prevention Education Coordinator, to discuss the important work Sierra Community House does in local schools to provide violence prevention programming designed to educate youth on the importance of strong and communicative relationships.  

We know that 1 in 3 young people will be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, so the issue is widespread.  (Domestic Violence Services Inc).

Christine dives into the details with us, here:  

Why is it important to start these conversations about healthy relationships early, with young people?  

Young people are often the most vulnerable to unhealthy dynamics in relationships since they are inexperienced and still learning how to treat and be treated inside of these intimate relationships. As youth start forming interpersonal relationships, we really work to provide tools for them to recognize and end the cycle of violence Among teens, violence and abuse can include physical, emotional, sexual, or even digital abuse online 

How can parents or young people look for signs of violence?  

Teen dating violence can take various forms in modern times, and this presents a significant challenge across all communities. It is important to recognize red flags in teen relationships, including jealousy, excessive contact checking, love-bombing, mood swings, and digital control, which indicate abusive and controlling dynamics. 

What is the foundation of a healthy relationship for teens?  

Healthy relationships are built on equal communication, respect, and empathy. Learning how to navigate disagreements respectfully is a fundamental aspect of fostering healthy connections. Our Prevention team works with schools and youth groups locally to provide resources and tools that empower individuals to make informed decisions about their relationships autonomously. Loveisrespect.org and Thatsnotcool.com also offer valuable online tools for individuals navigating the complexities of relationships.  

Sierra Community House enables communities and individuals to recognize their own resources and determine their own future by providing opportunities for support and empowerment. By providing individuals with the knowledge and skills to recognize and nurture positive connections, we contribute to building a safer and more compassionate world for all. 

For people experiencing violence or who have questions/concerns about someone they know, refer to our 24-hour community helpline 1-800-736-1060. Our services are free, confidential, and provided in multiple languages. 

Also, for more information on our prevention team or to set up a prevention effort, please contact [email protected].