Among high school students who date, 21% of girls and 10% of boys experience physical or sexual dating violence, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Victims of dating violence are more likely to experience anxiety and depression, engage in risky behaviors and substance use, and be victimized again later in life.
In recognition of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, a coalition of local organizations has planned a full day of educational activities on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
At Wilton High School, students will participate in an activity period during the school day with programs tailored to each grade. The senior and junior classes will attend Can I Kiss You?, presented by the Date Safe Project. Students will learn skills for making safe, smart decisions about respect in relationships, consent, bystander intervention, and supporting survivors of sexual assault.
The Yellow Dress will be performed for the sophomore class. This one-woman play is based on the stories of young women who were victims of dating violence. It is a constructed program that teaches audience members to identify different types of abuse, recognize early warning signs, and understand how to help someone in an abusive relationship.
The high school chapter of Teen PeaceWorks was instrumental in bringing this presentation to the school after a well-received performance at Wilton Library in September. Teen PeaceWorks is a student-led group that raises awareness about intimate partner violence and maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships.
PeaceWorks educators from the Domestic Violence Crisis Center will also visit the school on Feb. 15 to lead a program for freshmen focusing on how to identify unhealthy relationships, recognize early warning signs, and help peers at risk.
Later that evening, the Wilton Domestic Violence Task Force, in conjunction with Teen Peace-Works, Wilton High School PTSA, Wilton Library and Wilton Youth Council, will present Don’t Be Prey, Be Empowered, at 7, in the Brubeck Room of Wilton Library. The program will open with a screening of the award-winning documentary The Hunting Ground, about the rate of sexual assault on campus. Since its premiere at Sundance, the film has been shown at the White House and on hundreds of college campuses.
This special viewing at the library will be followed by a panel discussion with local experts on consent, reporting and resources. Supplemental information and pamphlets will be available before and after the event. This presentation is appropriate for high school students and adults. The program is free but registration is recommended at www.wiltonlibrary.org/events or by calling 203-762-6334.