Safe Dates is a dating abuse-prevention program aimed at both male and female middle- and high-school students. The goals of the program are 1) to raise students’ awareness of what constitutes healthy and abusive dating relationships; 2) to raise students’ awareness of dating abuse and its causes and consequences; 3) to equip students with the skills and resources to help themselves or friends in abusive dating relationships; and 4) to equip students with the skills to develop healthy dating relationships, including positive communication, anger management, and conflict resolution.
The program is typically administered by a school or community agency, through a health education, family life-skills, or general life-skills curriculum. Safe Dates has five core components: 1) a 10-session, dating abuse curriculum; 2) a 45-minute play about dating abuse and violence; 3) a poster contest; 4) parent materials, including a letter, newsletter, and the Families for Safe Dates program; and 5) an evaluation questionnaire.
The Safe Dates curriculum comprises 10 sessions that deal with attitudes and behaviors related to dating abuse and violence. Sessions last about 50 minutes each and include large- and small-group discussions, a review of scenarios, games and quizzes, role plays, and written exercises. The sessions can be presented over a period of days or weeks. Session topics are as follows: 1) Defining Caring Relationships; 2) Defining Dating Abuse; 3) Why Do People Abuse; 4) How to Help Friends; 5) Helping Friends; 6) Overcoming Gender Stereotypes; 7) How We Feel, How We Deal; 8) Equal Power Through Communication; 9) Preventing Dating Sexual Abuse; and 10) Reviewing the Safe Dates Program.
Safe Dates engages parents and guardians through the use of specific parent materials. The Families for Safe Dates program is available as an add-on for those interested in engaging caregivers more fully in the program.