By KARI BLURTON
Thanks to grants from Hays-based Jana’s Campaign and a partnership with the Kansas Association of Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences, nearly 20 middle and high school teachers are learning how to teach students and colleagues how to prevent teen dating violence.
National prevention trainer Kevin Ringhofer from the Hazelden-Betty Ford Foundation was flown in from Minnesota to certify the teachers in Hays on Thursday and Friday in SafeDates curriculum. He said the program is designed for grades 6 through 12.
“The teachers will work with the students on how they would like to be treated in a relationship … and then start defining what they think are harmful behaviors … some of the violent behaviors that can happen verbally, as well as physically and and sexually,” Ringhofer said, adding another important aspect of the curriculum is learning to help a friend in a unhealthy relationship.
Christie and Curt Brungardt started Jana’s Campaign in 2008 with the goal of “breaking the cycle of domestic and dating violence” after their daughter, Jana Mackey, a law student at the University of Kansas, was killed by her ex-boyfriend.
Christie Brungardt recalled in the beginning of Jana’s Campaign a teacher in Topeka telling her, “Now Christie, if you really want to make an impact in this work you need to start in the sixth grade and I thought ‘You can’t talk all about this stuff in the sixth grade.’ Of course, the more I learned, I knew you have to — maybe even younger — but we are starting with middle schools and high schools now.”
Christie said the initial training is designed to “train the trainer” whose participants will then help train other teachers with the goal of integrating healthy relationship curricula into at least 200 schools in Kansas over the next two years.
Co-founder and Jana Campaign’s board president Curt Brungardt told the crowd, “The key is you folks here will help spread teen dating violence prevention throughout the state of Kansas,” adding the partnership with FACS and its student leadership program — Family, Career and Community Leaders of America — is a national model, ” When we get done with Kansas we will go on to other states.”
For more information on the program and a grant application, visit the Jana’s Campaign website HERE or contact the Jana’s Campaign office based in Kansas at (785) 656-0324 or the Colorado office at (719) 660-8537.