Program targets teen dating abuse

LOS ANGELES It's the largest national initiative ever funded to help students build healthy relationships and combat violence.

The /*Start Strong program*/ is aimed at middle school students between 11 and 14 years old.

Friday's launch was sponsored by Peace Over Violence (POV). The program is funded by Blue Shield of California and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"We're going to be training the students on what it means to have a healthy relationship, helping them build the skills to prevent teen relationship violence," said Peace Over Violence spokesperson Patti Giggans. "We're also including the parents because often the parents are experiencing domestic violence."

The group says statistics show one in three teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, or physically hurt by a partner. Forty-five percent of the girls know a friend or peer who has been pressured into having intercourse or oral sex.

Although the program was launched at Berendo Middle School, it will also be focused at Virgil Middle School.

The LAUSD, El Centro del Pueblo, and the USC Institute for Multimedia Literacy are collaborative partners in the program.

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