Having worked in Austin’s middle schools for 20 years, I am completely convinced: Middle school absolutely matters when it comes to teen dating violence prevention. Unfortunately, many teachers or parents think that if their student isn’t dating in middle school, it must not be the right time for them to start learning about healthy relationships.
The fact is, that whether a student is dating or not, by sixth grade he or she is surrounded by peers who are. By middle school age, dating and all of the issues that go along with it have begun to dominate conversation and culture at school. If a student is going to be surrounded by relationship issues, then it’s important that he or she has a framework and tools for understanding them. We want to start informing students and providing them with the skills they need to have healthy relationships before they simply accept the example their peers are setting, which may be unhealthy or incorrect.