February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and like our allied partners, we are emphasizing the importance of recognizing dating violence among teens in our communities and schools. National statistics indicate 1 in 3 teens will experience teen dating violence; forms of abuse are emotional/verbal, technological, sexual, financial, physical and spiritual or faith-based.
 
Through the teen Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP) we teach teens to identify signs of abuse, what a healthy relationship looks like and how to teach other teens to do the same. Do you remember what it was like to be a teen? Maybe you still are a teen. Regardless, there was no way I was telling my parents (guardians, teachers, etc.) anything personal when I was 15. The lack of trust in adults is the biggest barrier to helping teens prevent and/or escape from abuse. This is why we emphasize Peer-to-Peer education about teen dating violence.  We want teens empowering teens. We want them to know they are not alone and they can go to their peers when they are in crises.
 
RAPP paves the way to help teens achieve their goals, academically and personally. It gives them the tools and knowledge to help themselves and help others whom may be experiencing teen dating violence. It is my wish to see the Relationship Abuse Prevention Program in every single school, because education is key to prevention of further abuse.
 
Luis has directed CADV’s Department of Education & Community Services (ECS) since 1999. In that time, he has taken the lead to provide innovative nonresidential services to stop domestic violence and aid its survivors, raise community awareness about relationship abuse and let the community know about CADV’s services.
 
Our established Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP) is in place at fifteen intermediate and high schools citywide. Combined, RAPP teaches 27,000 students a year about healthy, communicative, non-violent relationships and directly counsels over 2,500 teens, individually and in groups. In addition, RAPP coordinators reach out to teachers, parents and community members, to teach warning signs that a teen may be violent or abused.