In early 2019, Shift in partnership with the Werklund School of Education successfully conducted a two-part interdisciplinary symposium series entitled, Advancing Healthy Youth Relationships and Social Justice: Ways to Prevent Teen Dating Violence in Schools and Communities. The symposium equipped future teachers and social workers with the knowledge and competencies needed to effectively prevent and respond to teen dating violence in their work.
Sixty education and social work students engaged in a lively collaborative dialogue at the symposium, which brought media and public attention to the pervasiveness of violence in adolescent dating relationships and the importance of stopping violence before it starts. For example, it is estimated that 1 in 20 teens experience physical dating violence, and research led by the Faculty of Social Work shows that there is a significantly greater risk of teen victims experiencing further abuse in future adult romantic relationships.
Thanh Huynh-Stachura, a participant who hopes to become an English teacher, said the symposium revealed how teen dating violence can be truly impactful for victims. “Teachers don’t necessarily look at teen dating violence with the same lens as social workers do. Being able to collaborate and share what teen dating violence looks like in different environments helps us to see from a clearer perspective, and enhances our ability to recognize the signs or precursors of violence and effectively respond to them.”
Diana Watson, another participant said, “Learning together about ways to prevent teen dating violence helps us to see how our distinct disciplines can be resources for each other. I learned the immense value of incorporating social work values and principles, such as social justice, into our efforts to prevent teen dating violence. I look forward to raising awareness among colleagues about the importance of teaching healthy relationship skills to youth, and bringing my learning into the classroom to benefit my future students.”
Shift developed new content for, and is also conducting research on, the symposium series as part of its partnership with PREVNet in a national study funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The study brings together researchers from across Canada to understand how teacher education programs can better support teachers to prevent teen dating violence in schools.
Check out the UToday story about the event, and our interviews with Breakfast TV and Global News Calgary. Symposium organizer Lianne Lee, and Dr. Deinera Exner-Cortens, who led the research component of the symposium, were delighted to highlight the work that Shift and its partners are doing to advance healthy youth relationships and end teen dating violence.