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THE NEXT LOS ANGELES / TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION : Public Safety : Can we agree on down-to-earth steps to ensure that community-based policing actually will work? : Solutions: Teach Teens About Violence

July 17, 1994

FROM: Leah Aldridge, project director at the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women.

Serious attacks can be prevented simply by helping teens understand the roots of violence against women at the moment in their lives when they are forming their first romantic liaisons, Aldridge says.

Disturbed by surveys showing that at least 10% of high school students have experienced violence in their dating relationships, she developed a workshop about rape and battery. Last year she began taking it to counseling and recreation centers and schools.

The eight-part workshop aims at educating teen-agers about battery and rape in relationships, teaching boys why it is unacceptable behavior and girls how to resist it.

It relies heavily on developing rapport with teen-agers and communicating with them in the language of their culture. In one innovative exercise, Aldridge asks teens to recite lyrics from their favorite songs, to really listen to what they are saying, then to determine whether the relationships described in the songs are healthy.

"Most of the kids today have a lot of notions about putting their partner in check, regulating her," Aldridge said. "There's even a rap song about regulating called 'Regulate.' I tell them, 'What that boils down to is disciplining your partner. That's where violence begins."'

REALITY CHECK

This already is working on a small scale. But money remains a hurdle. Aldridge's three-year project, which calls for disseminating information to more than 300 centers, clubs and schools and training 25 teachers, is financed by a $43,000 grant from the state Office of Criminal Justice Planning. Taking it districtwide would cost far more.

The major obstacle to expanding the program might not be finding funds but convincing school and district administrators of the program's value.

"The problem you face is you tell an administrator, 'I want to come in and talk about rape.' And they say, 'Oh, we don't have that problem here,' " she said.

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