NEW YORK, NY—The Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV), the NYC Department of Education (DOE), and the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) announced the launch of the Early Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (Early RAPP), a program that will provide healthy relationship training to students at 128 middle schools throughout the five boroughs.
An estimated one in eight NYC teens reported experiencing physical violence in their dating relationships in the past year. This number is double for LGBTQ-identified youth, and triple for pregnant or parenting teens. For Early RAPP, existing Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP) curriculum for addressing high school-based teen dating abuse will be redesigned and expanded to provide a continuity of learning to NYC DOE middle schools—reaching students at an earlier age, when students report starting relationships most often.
Early RAPP will help middle schoolers identify unhealthy behaviors and build healthy relationship skills at a critical time in their development, and work to create a school culture that supports those relationships and creates safe spaces for young people to seek help for themselves and their peers.
“To prevent intimate partner violence and form healthy relationships, our young New Yorkers need positive role models and the right information early in their lives,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Early RAPP teaches students interpersonal skills they may never have learned, like how to set boundaries and how to have positive interactions during a difficult and emotional situation. Young people learn new behaviors that help them form healthier relationships and be the change agent that breaks the cycles of violence in many of our communities.”
“I thank the Mayor and First Lady for their partnership and support for programs like Early RAPP that educate our students on healthy and safe relationships,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “This new initiative is reaching 128 middle schools this year, and builds on the success of the RAPP program in our high schools. By integrating social-emotional learning into our middle and high schools, we’re helping young people to develop skills they’ll need in and outside our school buildings.”
This critical effort to expand the City’s youth prevention work was an initiative launched through the New York City Domestic Violence Task Force. The Domestic Violence Task Force was formed in 2016 to take an in-depth look at the delivery of services for survivors and their families and identify innovative intervention and prevention strategies to address the issue of domestic violence in New York City. The Task Force is co-chaired by First Lady Chirlane McCray and Police Commissioner James O’Neil. The work of the Task Force is co-led by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and ENDGBV.
Middle schools from all five boroughs have already signed up to be part of the Early RAPP program. Early RAPP Community Educators will provide workshops to students, parents and community members, and trainings to school staff. The Educators will also facilitate ongoing relationship abuse prevention curricula at their assigned schools, as well as connect students and families to critical support services.
New York City has contracted with three community-based organizations, Day One, the Urban Resource Institute, and Rising Ground, to bring Early RAPP Community Educators to middle schools to facilitate these interactive workshops and other programming for their school community.
“Educating middle school students about healthy relationships and giving them the tools they need to make critical choices can have a very positive impact on their future,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “Early RAPP provides a critical intervention at a critical age. This innovative model is part of the City’s ongoing work to increase prevention strategies to address domestic and gender-based violence in the City.”
“Young people are on the frontlines of our prevention efforts, and raising awareness early is the most effective tool we have against domestic violence,” said Cecile Noel, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence. “With Early RAPP, we are adding a new level of support for young people, enhancing their ability to engage in healthy relationship behaviors and become leaders among their peers.”
“Stopping abuse starts by knowing how to recognize it and teaching children how to identify unhealthy behavior is a major step forward,” said Elizabeth Glazer, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. “This important program will introduce children to concepts that will make their lives better, and our City, safer.”
Additional activities will include school-wide education campaigns, classroom workshops, support for individual students, professional development for faculty and administrators, and community outreach to parents and family members to expand education about risks of teen dating violence and provide tools for healthy relationships.
The Early RAPP model builds off the success of HRA’s Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP), which places full-time relationship abuse coordinators in schools to provide direct services to students and education and training for the entire school community, and ENDGBV’s Healthy Relationship Training Academy, which provides free, interactive educational workshops for students, staff, and parents at schools and youth programs citywide.
“Awareness and education are key elements in preventing unhealthy relationships and the sooner we begin teaching young minds what the red flags are, the better prepared they are to identify them in the future,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “As we have learned with HRA’s Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP) promoting safe and productive environments helps teens thrive in all aspects of their lives and instilling these important principles at an even younger age is critical so they can learn to address abusive behaviors.”
“Educating young people about domestic violence and healthy relationships is a critical strategy to prevent and end cycles of abuse. ERAPP will provide an even greater number of young people with the tools and resources to recognize the forms abuse can take, develop healthy personal relationships, and build self-confidence – and carry these lessons into adulthood,” said Nathaniel Fields, president and CEO of Urban Resource Institute. “Domestic violence is an issue that does not discriminate by age, and URI is honored to partner with the City to raise awareness and empower more students to live healthy lives.”
“Day One is proud to join the city’s new initiative supporting dating violence prevention in middle schools,” said Stephanie Nilva, Executive Director of Day One. “As a youth-serving organization, Day One recognizes the importance of providing healthy relationships education to younger students, and ERAPP focuses this messaging on a critical age. Investment in ongoing school-based efforts is key to ending relationship abuse for good.”
“As one of the founding providers of the Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP), STEPS to End Family Violence – a program of Rising Ground – is grateful for the City’s enduring commitment to providing comprehensive school-based healthy relationship training and education,” said Anne Patterson, Director, STEPS to End Family Violence, Rising Ground. “We have seen the many ways in which traditional RAPP has transformed the lives of young people and we are thrilled to be able to expand this good work to middle school students throughout the City.”
About the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence
The Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence develops policies and programs, provides training and prevention education, conducts research and evaluations, performs community outreach, and operates the NYC Family Justice Centers. ENDGBV collaborates with City agencies and community stakeholders to ensure access to inclusive services for survivors of domestic and gender-based violence. For more information, visit nyc.gov/ENDGBV or visit us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.