Chicago Schools See Relationship Education Classes

A News Update

When it comes to abuse, many people conceptualize physically violent encounters or the sort of horrific and rare events wrapped around media-crazy murder cases. But mental health professionals are likely more aware of how many different forms abuse can take. From subtle occurrences to overt instances, abuse is a part of life for many modern people, and studies of people of all ages and life situations suggest that a great deal of them aren’t cognizant of the problem.

This is especially true in the case of young people, who, when entering romantic relationships for the first time or exploring their sexuality during teen years, often decline to share details with anyone outside their own circle of friends. This is compounded by the fact that some children are raised without a solid example of a functional romantic relationship, making abuse seem ordinary or acceptable. Aiming to combat these opportunities for abuse, the domestic violence prevention program “Between Friends” in Chicago has begun offering early relationship education courses to local students in junior high and high school. Over the course of a handful of weeks, with one hour per week set aside for the special program, the courses help students explore warning signs of abuse, how to get help in abusive situations, and how to foster –and accept– healthy relationships.

From sexual pressure and non-consensual encounters to patterns of verbal and emotional abuse, the program hopes to help the city’s youth to establish positive relationship habits early on, sparing them lifelong difficulties with intimacy, teaching them how to deal with trust issues, and helping to prevent domestic violence. For the students, who are often led to place importance on other factors in relationships, the knowledge and support may be crucial.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Danielle


    March 10th, 2009 at 2:55 AM

    I am so glad to see a school district taking the initiative here in this vital area of concern. As a teenager in my first serious relationship I allowed myself to be used and abused as they say and it has scarred the way I felt about myself in subsequent relationships for a very long time. My then boyfriend would be so nice and sweet to me when around other people but the moment we were alone he would accuse me of flirting with others, tell me how fat and ugly I was, and how no one else would ever want me but him. It was so bad that eventually I came to believe that everything that he said was true. Luckily my parents finally saw what was going on and helped me to see that breaking away from him was exactly what I needed to do but I cannot tell you still how difficult that was even after all of the terrible ways that he made me feel about myself. Teachers and schools are wonderful providers and reinforcers of education which lets young males and females both know that this type of behavior is wrong and that no one has to stay in a relationship like this.

  • Kerri


    March 10th, 2009 at 3:01 AM

    This is so great of Between Friends in Chicago.. I just wished more schools and organizations would offer this.

  • Dawna


    March 10th, 2009 at 3:02 AM

    I really hope a lot of students take up on this course. Teens as well as young adults need to know the signs and get help as soon as they feel like they are falling into this type of relationship. I commend this group for giving the teens this program.

  • Robin


    March 11th, 2009 at 5:07 AM

    In view of the recent events between superstars Rhianna and Chris Brown I think it is about time that schools finally stepped up to the plate and began educating teens about the dangers of relationship abuse and the many forms it can take. Of course that has to be reinforced at home but this definitely helps.

  • Evelyn


    March 12th, 2009 at 1:51 AM

    I’m with Robin… We must first begin at home teaching our kids, even while they are still young, what is wrong and what is right. And if the kids sees this kind of behavior at home, 9 times out of 10, they will copy this when they get older. We as parents must teach our children the right way.

  • Irene


    March 12th, 2009 at 3:03 AM

    It will be nice to see if teen pregnancy numbers go down as a result of these classes too. Maybe traditional sex education classes do not work so well anymore but perhaps teaching young girls that they have the power to stand up for themselves in relationships will help to strengthen many more of them on an emotional level and they will find it easier to say no to premarital sex and in turn do themselves and society a great service by not bringing any more unwanted children into the world. It is always so sad to see such bright and promising young teens throw their lives away for the sake of making someone happy and saying yes to sex when emotionally and physically, not to mention financially, thay are nowhere near ready to deal with the ramifications of the their decisions. I hope that these relationship ed classes can delve into some of this and help stem the growing numbers of teen pregnancy too.

  • Sandra


    March 13th, 2009 at 3:04 AM

    What about those parents who see no need for relationship education in the schools? Is this going to be something like sex ed where they can opt out if they do not agree with what is being taught?

  • Stacy L

    Stacy L

    March 15th, 2009 at 6:36 AM

    That would be very sad if parents did not allow their children to participate in programs like these because they can do so much good. Not allowing them to be a part of this is going to cause a lot more harm than learning about the realities of life ever could. So many parents today are very closed minded and think that they can shelter their kids forever but you just can’t. You have to let them in on the possibilities that they will face in life and some positive ways for dealing with bad situations when they arise.

  • Millie


    March 16th, 2009 at 2:06 AM

    This program would be wonderful for teens and young adults, especially if the parent feels uncomfortable talking to their kids about safe sex.

  • Allie


    March 18th, 2009 at 1:04 AM

    There seems to be a lot of parents who just don’t feel right or comfortable talking to their kids about sex and abuse. We as parents need to try to find a way to talk to our kids so we can at least try to prevent our kids being hurt by someone, like Robin had mentioned, like the Chris Brown and Rihanna deal.

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