We were fortunate that by the time we began our Start Strong work, the Austin Independent School District (AISD) already had a strong dating violence policy in place (which we had helped them develop in years prior). But, just having good policy isn’t enough. Everyone has to know about it and have the tools to make the most of it.
So, during Start Strong, we really focused on bringing that school policy to life and making sure that every student and adult felt empowered to leverage it. We tailored trainings about the policy for school staff to fit their particular roles. For example, our training for teachers was different from our training for school nurses, which focused on signs to look for in general health screenings. For students, we focused on making sure they knew how to file a bullying, violence, or harassment complaint using the reporting protocol and form that the school policy had established. We also helped AISD create a user-friendly site for educating parents, students, staff, and others on the school policy. Our ultimate vision was that every single student and staff member on every campus in the school district was trained on this policy and how to use it.
When a policy successfully empowers a school community to spot and report unhealthy relationship behaviors early on, it creates a very powerful means for prevention.