Breakup Summit Helps Students Navigate Intense Emotions

It is a sensitive subject not usually brought up in classroom discussions, but talking up breakups was part of the curriculum at Boston's ninth annual Breakup Summit.

The day long summit at Simmons College was put on by the Boston Public Health Commission and a program called Start Strong. Hundreds of Boston-area teens attended the event meant to help students make the right calls when calling it off.

According to the Boston Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, in 2017, among Boston Public High School students who have dated, 15 percent of females and 10 percent of males have experienced some sort of dating violence.

"We know violence can happen during breakups," program director Jess Alder said. "It's the most dangerous time for young people that are in unhealthy or abusive relationships."

Organizers said the goal is not just to educate, but to empower. At the summit, students did not just discuss deal-breakers, they had breakthroughs.

"I think most of my breakups happened because I didn't love myself," one student said.

Attendees took part in a Breakup 101 course that addressed dating in the age of Instagram and other challenges presented by technology. Those leading the discussions said they are constantly updating the curriculum each year to include whatever is trending and teenagers and experiencing.

"We provide tools and starter conversations so that young people feel equipped to navigate these intense emotions," Alder said.

Following the course, the students watched a screening of the second season of "The Halls," a web series that aims to address teen dating violence and relationships.

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