New program in Duval County schools encourages healthy relationships between students

by: Kaitlyn Chana, Action News Jax Updated:

Duval County schools implemented a new curriculum this year that could save students’ lives.

One Love was created in honor Yeardley Love, a college senior who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend just weeks before her graduation.

Northeast Florida Regional Coordinator Annie Forrest is helping Duval County Public Schools and Jacksonville University start the conversation about unhealthy relationships.

“Trust your gut. If it feels like something is off, it probably is off," Forrest said. "Or it at least warrants a further conversation."

One Love statistics say one in three women and one in four men will experience relationship violence in their lifetime.

“It’s so important to get in front of young people particularly," Forrest said. "They are in the most at-risk demographic, ages 16 to 24. If we can help them understand the difference between unhealthy and healthy relationship behaviors, then we can hopefully end relationship abuse."

One Love has created a prevention curriculum sponsored by the Jacksonville Jaguars. It features a film called "Escalation" with a fictional couple to help recognize signs of unhealthy relationships.

“We see these unhealthy signs all the time, and we see young people don’t know how to talk about them and may be in unhealthy or abusive relationships,” Forrest said.

After watching the film, the next step is a discussion portion in which teachers and facilitators lead a guided conversation to educate and empower students.

Through group discussions, they talk about the dangers of relationships seen through power and negative behavior.

The campaign, #thatsnotlove, is allowing people to reflect on their own lives. It’s something the NFL is supporting. 

“It’s important everybody has a common language about what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy, so when we get peers to have a discussion amongst themselves about those things, they find themselves that they’re actually on the same page,” Forrest said.

Students are learning about creating boundaries to keep their relationships healthy and secure.

Forrest explained students learn the importance of speaking up if something is bothering them about their partner. She said it’s important to be respectful of your partner’s wishes and feelings.

Through this preventative approach, One Love organizers hope to reduce the number of people who are physically or emotionally abused by their partners.

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