SAFV offers a variety of programs through the support of the Sitka School District and Mt. Edgecumbe High School. Schools play a vital role in the development of young people. Teachers and administrators have as much influence as parents in shaping and molding our youth. One of our prevention goals is to work with schools to create a climate that promotes respect and does not tolerate violence in any form.
If you would like more information or are interested in volunteering please contact or call 907-747-3370.
Since the 1980s, SAFV has been providing safety presentations to K-5th grade students in Sitka. These programs are designed to teach students to recognize potentially dangerous situations, protect themselves against bullying, child abuse, and sexual abuse, and to take appropriate action if they are unsafe. For young students, we focus on safe and unsafe touch, as well as secret safety.
Children listen during a presentation about safe and unsafe touch.
We believe these lessons are important in the classroom as part of group education on social and safety skills. However, to truly be effective prevention lessons, these safety guidelines and skills need to be reinforced outside of school, by parents, family members, and community members!
To find out more, contact . To learn more about how to talk to students about personal safety, check out our Safety Packets for parents and mentors, including a safety tip sheet and safety plan, to fill out with your child.
Safety Packets for parents and mentors:
Youth are empowered by learning their bodies belong to them and they can say “No” if they don’t want a touch or it makes them feel uncomfortable or confused. All classes learn the rhyme “My body is mine from head to toe; if I don’t like a touch, I can say No!” Finally, students brainstorm safe places they could go and safe adults they could talk to if they had a problem like an unsafe secret or unsafe touch.
For older students, we reinforce these concepts as well as learn about the different forms of abuse and talk about online safety. We brainstorm safe adults and safe places and talk about why it might be hard for someone being hurt to ask for help. We reinforce that abuse is never a child’s fault, and that it is important to get the help that you or a friend needs.
FOURTH R: SKILLS FOR YOUTH RELATIONSHIPS
SAFV has been instrumental in establishing and supporting this state-endorsed curriculum at Sitka High School, Mount Edgecumbe High School, and Blatchley Middle School. The Fourth R ("R" stands for "relationships") is a comprehensive, skill-based program for grades 7-9 that promotes healthy relationships and nonviolence. Approximately 60 schools across Alaska have been trained in the Fourth R.
A communal "Dating Bill of Rights" created by MEHS students at a Fourth R orientation. Each student wrote down something they deserve in a healthy relationship.
The evidence-based curriculum, originally developed in Canada, was adapted to fit rural Alaskan communities, and is supported by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. It is one of the few programs that has been proven to reduce violence and improve decision-making and communication skills among students. Important topics include bullying, personal relationships, peer and dating violence, substance abuse and high-risk behaviors. Students learn about consent and sexual assault, as well as safety planning and how to support a friend.
Learn more about the Fourth R.
HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS CLASSES
Teaching young people about healthy relationships is a core component in preventing interpersonal violence. We often hear from victims of domestic violence that they only know what an unhealthy relationship looks like; no one ever taught them what a healthy relationship looks like. Teens are more at risk for intimate partner violence than adults, and the severity of violence among partners has been shown to increase if the pattern was established in adolescence.
RAVEN'S WAY (Yéil jeeyáx)
SAFV visits this residential substance abuse treatment program to talk to students from across Alaska about healthy relationships, dating red flags, sexual assault and consent, and relationship rights and responsibilities.
PACIFIC HIGH SCHOOL
Pacific High School Student with a project created during a healthy sexuality class taught by SAFV.
Over the years, SAFV has taught a variety of classes at PHS covering a range of topics that impact the development of equal and respectful relationships.
Topics include identifying personal core values and cultural background; societal violence, privilege and oppression; gender stereotypes; media literacy; creating allies; self-care and boundaries; dating violence and creating healthy relationships.
WHY TEACH HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS?
Linda Chamberlain, PhD MPH, says, “Adolescents lack all the hardware in their brains to think like an adult. The prefrontal cortex goes through extensive remodeling during adolescence and is responsible for judgment, impulse control, problem solving, organization, planning, multi-tasking and goal setting.”
In other words, adolescents are often driven by emotions and act quickly before weighing consequences and need guidance from positive adult role models to learn these important life skills.
Teens learn from their influencers and benefit from learning healthy relationships skills in the school environment. According to experts like Dr. Linda Chamberlain, teens need opportunities to practice relationship skills like direct communication and conflict resolution in order to learn them.
If schools, parents, and communities don’t play a significant role in the lives of youth, teens are more at risk for delinquent adolescent behaviors such as succumbing to peer pressure, using drugs and alcohol, choosing unprotected sex, developing unhealthy relationship patterns, and low academic achievement. Read more about The Amazing Teen Brain.
Emphasis on cultural heritage and family traditions not only builds resiliency within an individual but also creates opportunities for building respect and understanding of differences within schools and across communities.
The Sitka Native Education Program (SNEP), one of our key Pathways partners, is spearheading the Tlingit language and cultural K-12 curriculum being developed in partnership with the Sitka School District.
The Sitka Native Education Program (SNEP) was started by Isabella Brady in 1974. (Photo courtesy of SNEP)
We have supported the development and integration of this curriculum into the school setting as well as supported the annual summer culture camp that reinforces the learning objectives from the year’s class. To learn more about the agency's programs, visit SNEP'S Facebook page.
SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING
Social and Emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions as defined by CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.
SEL programming is based on the understanding that the best learning emerges in the context of supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging and meaningful.
Social and emotional skills are critical to being a good student, citizen and worker; and many risky behaviors (e.g., drug use, violence, bullying and dropping out) can be prevented or reduced when multiyear, integrated efforts are used to develop students’ social and emotional skills. This is best done through effective classroom instruction and student engagement in positive activities in and out of the classroom; and broad parent and community involvement in program planning, implementation and evaluation.