INDIANAPOLIS — There is a new effort to reduce teen dating violence in the city.
A group of eighth graders at Indianapolis Public Schools' Center for Inquiry School 2 is the latest to participate in the Change Project, which allows them to have an open discussion on a topic that is real and relevant to teens.
"Our goal is to change the culture that leads to dating violence in the classroom, in the school and in the community," Domestic Violence Network associate director Lindsay Stawick said.
Stawick and other leaders with the Domestic Violence Network host sessions for students and teach them about consent, healthy relationships and the warning signs of abuse.
"Just being in classrooms every day in the school year, we hear students all the time talk about themselves or a friend experiencing unhealthy or unsafe behavior," Stawick said.
According to statistics from the Domestic Violence Network, Indiana ranks third in the nation for the percentage of high school students reporting sexual dating violence.
"A lot of kids when they get into high school have no idea what to do or you get busy or they see friends having trouble with it, and they have no idea what to do, who to go to go, what to say," Raleigh Williams, an IPS student, said.
The goal is to change that. In addition to the Change Project, IPS has an online Title IX tool that students can use to report abuse, assault and discrimination.
Every middle and high school student in the district also has a specially trained teen dating advocate. They are all efforts toward empowering students for a safer and healthier future.
"I think at some point in our lives, every person who takes this class is going to come across, sadly, some circumstance where they are going to use this information, and that's why this is so important," Williams said.