Child Abuse Listening Mediation (CALM) and Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Maria Valley recently completed the pilot program in a collaborative effort to promote healthy relationships for teens in Santa Maria using a curriculum called DateSMART.
A group of teens from Boys & Girls Clubs sites located at Evans Park and Guadalupe met twice weekly under the guidance of CALM and Boys and Girls Club’s staff.
Goals of DateSMART include providing teens with knowledge and skills of establishing a fun and safe relationship. Through fun and easy-to-learn sessions, members learn how to achieve mutually supportive relationships free of violence and abuse. The program also encourages youth to become community advocates for relationships that promote equality and respect while combating the attitudes and behaviors that lead to dating, sexual and domestic violence.
“Dating, sexual and domestic violence are things that happen in our community. When we inform our teenagers about these topics it is beneficial not only to the teens, but to our community as a whole,” said Nestor Frausto, health and life skills program coordinator at Boys & and Girls Clubs.
Forty percent of children seen at CALM are exposed to domestic violence in the home. CALM hopes that by targeting relationships in teens, the community will see a decrease in the children exposed to violence in the future.
“It is important for teens to understand what healthy relationships look like,” said CALM therapist Sarah Taniyama. “So they can not only obtain them themselves but teach these lessons to their children to prevent domestic violence and the cycle of violence.”