Voc-Tech embraces DA’s initiative to combat teen dating violence

From The Standard Times
By Auditi Guha
March 7, 2015

Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School staff said they are committed to giving students the tools they need to succeed in life, beyond an education. They want them to lead healthy lives. So Bristol District Attorney Tom Quinn’s new countywide effort to address the problem of teen dating violence struck a chord.

“We strive to teach beyond book knowledge to assist students with social problems inside the school and outside,” said James O’Brien, assistant principal and dean of freshmen. “We work to promote a positive culture here and we have a great relationship with the DA’s office.”

Eric Poulin from the DA’s office dropped off new brochures Friday afternoon to educate students on how technology is increasingly being used as a tool for dating abuse. The information has been given to all 44 high schools in Bristol County.

“Unfortunately, it is a very serious social issue,” Poulin said. “Teens can be new to the whole dating process and we really want them to know what to expect, what not to expect. Usually, they learn these things from trial and error, but we are hoping we can give them the tools and skills to help them before that happens.”

One in three teens report experiencing some form of abuse in a dating relationship. Cell phones, the internet and social media can enhance the level of abuse, especially among teens, according to a news release from the DA’s office.

Leafing through the brochure titled “Teens, Technology, and Dating Violence,” Jimmy Owens, GNB Voc-Tech guidance coordinator, said it’s a great idea. “This brings initial awareness to this type of violence,” he said, and will help them start the discussion with their students.

The brochure will be available at Voc-Tech’s health and guidance offices. It aims to give teens the tools to recognize unhealthy behaviors and warning signs of abusive relationships, tools they could use through high school and college. “It’s a lot cheaper to focus on education and prevention than prosecution and incarceration,” Poulin said.

Last year the DA’s office conducted a domestic violence panel at Voc-Tech for all 550 Grade 9 students. O’Brien wondered if they could do a similar one on technology and dating violence; Poulin said it is certainly possible.

Other school districts have also responded favorably. New Bedford Schools Superintendent Pia Durkin said she applauds the effort.

“With the ever-advancing changes in technology, it’s important that our young people are prepared and informed about making the best decisions possible,” she said in an email.

“I am grateful to DA Quinn for providing us with this comprehensive brochure,” said Principal John Gould from Dartmouth High School. It “provides a road map for students on how to navigate today’s challenges.”

Original source: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/20150307/NEWS/150309518