OAKLAND (KCBS) – The U.S. government is getting ready to conduct an experiment of sorts inside Oakland middle school classrooms – trying to teach kids about safe dating skills.
In a classroom at the Alameda County Public Health Department in San Leandro, 25 social workers, educators and parents gathered into small groups, learning about teenage relationship violence.
KCBS' Jeffrey Schaub Reports:
Then they'll be able to fan out to 11 Oakland middle schools and teach parents about it.
"The parent is the one that's there every single day. The parent is the one that knows that child," said Kimberly Bradley, a counselor at Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland.
The program is called "Dating Matters" and it's funded by a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. June Allen is one of the students.
"I am doing this because I am a parent," Allen said.
She said the goal is to reach kids when they're still willing to listen. "They're starting in middle school where there is still an opportunity to have that one-on-one dialogue prior to high school," said Allen.
The program targets Oakland schools for this reason – while nationally, one-in-three teenage girls is likely to experience anything from verbal and physical abuse to online sexual bullying, those numbers rise to two-out-of-three in the inner city.
And Bradley said it's not just boys brutalizing girls either.
"These girls now don't even hesitate to punch, to fight boys," she said.
Elisa Bautista said she's hoping to take what she learns back to the Latino community.
"Sometimes, violence happens within our youngsters and as parents, we prefer not to talk to about it," she said.
But kids know it's happening. Like at Oakland Technical High School, where almost every student said they know someone who has suffered some form of abuse in a dating relationship.
Some Bay Area school districts are opening up to educating kids about teen abuse, but many others are not.
Listen for Jeffrey's Cover Story reports, "Teen Violence," Monday through Friday, Dec. 10 – 14, at 6:20 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 12:20 p.m., 4:20 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. on All News 740 and FM 106.9 KCBS.
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