Breaking the Cycle of Violence: an Exploration Into Dating Violence Prevention Curriculum
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In 2004 the Ontario Ministry of Education created the Safe Schools Action Team (SSAT) to advise on the development of a comprehensive approach to bullying prevention. When four years later in 2008 the SSAT re-engaged in order to review the issues of gender-based violence, homophobia, sexual harassment, and inappropriate sexual behaviour, recommendations were made for addressing these issues (Ministry of Education, 2008). One of the most significant dimensions of the SSAT report was their statement that the most effective method to learn about healthy relationships is through school curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2008). Taking the SSAT recommendation that the most effective method for educating adolescents on healthy relationships is through curriculum, the current study seeks to describe, from the teacher’s perspective, experiences with and motivations for using curriculum advocating healthy relationships, specifically dating violence prevention programming. The purpose of this thesis is to examine four female Ontario Physical and Health Education teachers’ personal and professional experience with teen dating violence and their knowledge about and use of dating violence prevention curriculum that has been approved by the Ontario Ministry of Education. The participants related their experiences with dating violence within their school communities and discussed how they approached these issues within their own classroom. The results of this study indicate that dating violence continues to be a prevalent issue for Ontario secondary schools, and there is a need for continued research into how to teach dating violence prevention in meaningful ways.