Bloom 365 works to stop teen dating abuse
March 11, 2019
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Nowadays, it is not uncommon to find teenagers in relationships in high school. However, what can go hand in hand with dating in high school is teen dating abuse. Sometimes abuse isn’t necessarily recognized right away and can fester into something more toxic later.
Bloom 365, a program that’s sole purpose is to end teen dating abuse before it starts, helps to nurture healthy and happy relationships through peer to peer promotion.
“It helps give confidence to students that wouldn’t normally know how to handle a bad relationship or [know] what a challenging relationship looks like. So I think it’s given a lot of confidence to students who wouldn’t normally get that training,” said Shane Hesse, health teacher.
SWAT (Student Wellness Advocacy Team), OHS’ method of promoting a positive and safe environment on campus, has partnered with Bloom 365 to help students foster healthy relationships.
“SWAT is the vehicle for which we drive health and wellness for our teachers and students on campus and this is one dimension of wellness that our students definitely need. So we embed it into the SWAT program and that is why we are able to specifically have a Bloom 365 team,” Hesse said.
Although originally started in 2006 as the Purple Ribbon Council, years of development and growth passed and by 2012, Bloom 365 has become what it is today. Donna Bartos, CEO and founder of Bloom 365, explains why she decided to start the Bloom program.
“I was angry that not enough was being done in our communities and across the country to prevent domestic, sexual and teen dating violence before it started. And so, I started the organization just as an awareness effort to help people understand that this is happening in every community in many homes; everyone knows someone who has been impacted by it but we’re not talking about it enough,” Bartos said.
Students belonging to SWAT teams dedicated specifically to the Bloom 365 program go through the training to become peer advocates as they learn what teen dating violence is all about.
“We have four Bloom 365 teams this semester. Their goal now, because they are now peer advocates, is to go to different classrooms on campus and different schools in our district and then train others and teach others about the seven doses of Bloom and then they can expand the horizon of peer relationship and teen dating violence,” said Shane Hesse, health teacher.
As a part of the Bloom 365 program, students are taught the seven doses (lessons) about dating abuse and what a healthy relationship should look like. The first few doses are specifically about dating abuse; what it is, red flags and how to recognize it, and root causes specifically identified by unhealthy gender norms and influences from the media and people in their community.
“[These] multi lessons help teens understand, in your world what is relevant to you, what is healthy/unhealthy [and what] caring/controlling relationships look like. But beyond that, how do we grow relationships that are based in good communication, conflict resolution, showing respect, showing empathy and from there really mobilizing young people, your generation, to change the culture around you that has enabled to fuel tank stuff to become the norm or become socially acceptable to change the world around them,” said Donna Bartos, CEO and founder of Bloom 365.
Bloom 365 is a place where teens can go to get help or ask for advice if need be. A part of the Bloom curriculum is considering blooming/wilting behavior or factors in a relationship and how people treat each other in the process.
“Really thinking about the relationships you have with others whether it is friendships or dating relationships… just thinking about the way we’re treating other people and are we treating them in a way that is showing empathy or a way that shows power and control? And then the other piece of that is for all young people to know whether they have gone through our seven doses or not is that there are caring and trusted adults around them ready and willing to listen and help them through if they feel like they need some help navigating any of these issues,” Bartos said.
Like everything, nothing gets accomplished without work. Spreading awareness about teen dating abuse and abusive relationships could eventually lead to greater, more impactful outcomes.
“Bloom 365 stands for bringing love on others more 365 days a year… [And] awareness has to start somewhere but that awareness is ultimately going to lead to the policy and law changes that say domestic violence, sexual violence, teen dating violence are crimes and we should not accept them as okay or as the norm or as the standard. We need to build healthy safe relationships that have empathy, and kindness and respect and good communication as the standard and that is our big goal… and we relay through you peer to peer…,” said Donna Bartos, CEO and founder of Bloom 365.
Together, teenagers can change the way the world works and create a better future not only for themselves but others. To see the things that are wrong in the world and put action behind a plan to change them, is where the power lies.
“Teens today are leaders of today, not the leaders of tomorrow. And teens today, you have the power and potential to change the culture around you when you see these things that are happening and no longer accept it as okay,” Bartos said.