Start Strong is an internationally recognized high school peer leadership program that aims to prevent teen dating violence and promote healthy relationships. We use a trauma-informed, positive youth development framework to start conversations on systems of oppression, intersectionality, and prevention/promotion work primarily using a media literacy lens. All of our work is youth-created, -driven, or -inspired, which means that youth are the heart of our program.
We offer several curricula, modules, and single sessions; details which can be found in Resources. Start Strong is most well-known for the annual Break Up Summit, The Halls web-series, our Media Literacy Tools, and our popular Porn Literacy courses (more information can be requested if you contact us).
Our work is built using the theory of planned behavior and has been evaluated based on knowledge, attitude, and behavior change. We have the strongest results with our Peer Leaders, as they are fully immersed in our programming and receive the highest dosage of content. Research shows statistically significant growth in knowledge, attitude, and behavior shifts among Peer Leaders. The focus of our work covers four main areas:
We educate and engage youth who are both in and out of school.
We work with a group of 25 high school age teens who serve as Peer Leaders in their communities.
Peer Leaders work on media campaigns aimed at preventing dating violence among teenagers in Boston and increasing their healthy relationship skills.
We work with schools, community groups and youth-serving agencies to implement our tools so that they can support young people in engaging in healthy relationships.
Since 2008, we have trained 100 Peer Leaders from across Boston's diverse neighborhoods. Peer Leaders have come from private, public, METCO, and charter schools. On average, Peer Leaders entered the Start Strong program in the 10th grade and 93% of Start Strong Peer Leaders went on to graduate from high school. In total, Peer Leaders and staff led more than 300 trainings since 2008. Attendance at Start Strong trainings has nearly eclipsed 21,000.
The goal of this teen dating violence prevention effort is to go beyond individual prevention tactics and to build a community-wide, well-researched prevention model that will have significant impact on young people in Boston. By including Boston young people in the development of every part of the programming, from planning to implementation, we are making sure that we are not just talking about teens, but that we are also talking to them and with them and helping them become part of the solution to the very serious issue of teen dating violence.