Cliffside Park HS Students Becoming Activists Against Dating Abuse

CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. -- Overwhelmed by the realization that she was a victim, a young high-schooler walked out of a forum on dating abuse presented by A Partnership for Change to compose herself.

<p>Students have each other&#x27;s backs in the program.</p>

Students have each other's backs in the program.

Photo Credit: COURTESY: A Partnership for Change

A staff member from APFC’s PowerBack teen dating abuse prevention program followed her and eventually connected the girl with a counselor.

"That's the kind of difference a program like this makes," Allison Bressler, APFC's co-founder and co-director, told Daily Voice.

APFC is taking PowerBack to Cliffside Park, Lodi and River Dell (River Edge) high schools this school year as it continues to expand its mission to end dating violence and support victims who come forward.

The program’s peer leader model is based on APFC surveys of more than 8,000 high school students in New Jersey -- nearly three-quarters of whom said they would first go to a friend for help before a parent, counselor, hotline or other adult.

At the end of the grant-funded forums, students are invited to join PowerBack to become “certified” peer leaders in their schools.

The requirements include attending a monthly educational meeting, passing a certification exam, and creating and implementing a year-end awareness event on campus.

"Our surveys also revealed that 22% of these students witness domestic violence at home," says APFC co-founder Gloria Sgrizzi.

PowerBack, in turn, includes training for school faculty, administration, and parents/guardians on family violence "in order to provide a wider safety net for teen victims," she said.

Since 2009, Bressler said, the non-profit APFC has certified 204 PowerBack peer leaders in New Jersey; provided 260 teen victims and 26 adult victims with information, support and referral; educated 833 adults (teachers, school counselors, administrators, parents and guardians); and reached more than 8,000 teens at school-wide forums and awareness events.

Besides seeking schools to host the program, APFC "is always looking for committed board members," Bressler said.



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