JAY — Sixth-grader Calli Pomerleau walked around her peer Summer Vigue to unwrap the plastic wrap that had been wound around her to represent a controlling, abusive relationship.

Sixth-graders brainstormed ideas about what healthy relationships and friendships should be and the signs of unhealthy, abusive relationships. They talked about what they could do to help, including telling someone they are there to listen.

“Ninety-two percent of teens will talk to other teens,” Jessica Dorr, Safe Voices community educator, told students. Realistically, 90 percent of kids won’t tell their parents what is bothering them, she said.

Safe Voices was formerly known as Abused Women’s Advocacy Project.

Dorr has been working with Jay students at different grade levels during the last two months. The lessons are geared to each age level.

Social worker Catherine Siggens stood to the side in the middle school library on Monday and watched students interact.

Dorr passed out “The Relationship Bill of Rights” to students. They took turns reading their rights.

Among the rights are to be able:

* To have and express my own feelings and opinions whether or not others agree;

* To say ‘no’ to physical closeness or any other act that makes me uncomfortable, at any time; and

* To live free from fear and abuse.

When Dorr worked with seventh and eighth graders last month, they made flags out of wide bands of cloth that now hang in the lobby between the gym and the cafeteria.

Students had looked up statistics about teen dating abuse and created flags to go with the statistic or what makes healthy relationships, Siggens said after class.

The flags had a mix of statements and statistics including: “Love is respect,” “Trust,” “Love is listening,” and “1 in 5 people in relationships report some type of abuse.”

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