We found that our outreach and implementation efforts were much more consistent and sustainable when we used our expertise and educational materials to inform policies that were citywide or statewide, rather than policies focused on the individual school level.
For example, we recently collaborated with our fellow city-level agencies to inform a new wellness policy that was approved by the School Committee and will be implemented in schools throughout the city of Boston. The language they adopted draws on important information that we shared about the value of promoting healthy relationships, rather than just reacting to unhealthy ones.
We simultaneously worked with officials in the Massachusetts departments of Health and Elementary and Secondary Education as the officials were updating teen dating violence guidelines for school districts across the state. By educating those officials about the importance of a preventative approach, we changed the framework within which they wrote those guidelines.
Unlike the old guidelines, which focused on protocols for intervention, the new, recently approved guidelines emphasize prevention and positive school climate. This change we accomplished on the statewide level will have an impact on the individual school level, too, because these new guidelines will now be adopted by every school in the state.