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Unveiling Love and Empowerment with RAPP and ERAPP

On Valentine’s Day 2024, amidst the celebration of love, we uncover a powerful theme chosen for this year’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: ‘Love Like That.’ Love, the very cornerstone of our lives, reminds us of the importance of cultivating relationships deeply rooted in respect, empathy, and kindness. In this heartwarming narrative, we illuminate the transformative impact of the Urban Resource Institute’s (URI) Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP) and Early Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (ERAPP) within the vibrant landscape of New York City schools.

At the heart of these programs are dedicated professionals, including RAPP Coordinators and ERAPP Community Educators, who serve as a vital bridge between URI and the school communities they nurture.

“In Early RAPP, we believe that educating young minds about healthy relationships is planting seeds for a future free from violence. Through critical thinking and outreach, we help students grow into individuals who can build strong friendships, relationships, and families,” says Dr. Elizabeth Lasky, PhD, LCSW, Early RAPP Supervisor.



These programs offer a holistic strategy to address and prevent teen dating violence. Students benefit from individual and group counseling sessions that not only help them navigate the complexities of relationships but also foster self-esteem and self-awareness. Informative classroom workshops empower students to distinguish between healthy and abusive behaviors.

RAPP and ERAPP’s influence transcend the student body. School staff undergo essential training, equipping them to provide effective support to students and act as mandated reporters when necessary. Moreover, parents and the wider community are actively engaged through workshops and presentations, creating a supportive network around our youth.

“Our mission within RAPP is to empower young people to recognize and prevent abusive behaviors before they transition into adulthood. We stand at the forefront of domestic violence prevention, ensuring that every staff member, student, and family we reach understands the importance of respect, empathy, and kindness in their relationships,” affirms Ariella Perkes-Schreiber, LCSW, RAPP Supervisor.

The Peer Leadership component stands as one of the most impactful aspects of these programs. Selected students undergo intensive training to become advocates against relationship abuse, spreading awareness and actively involving their peers. The summer peer leadership program equips these young leaders with the knowledge and confidence to return to school as champions of healthy relationships.

Throughout this inspiring journey, URI keeps a vigilant eye on outcomes, tracking improvements in self-esteem and interpersonal relationships to gauge program effectiveness. RAPP Coordinators play an indispensable role within each school’s crisis response team, ensuring a swift and coordinated response to incidents of dating violence.



As the rates of domestic violence homicides continues to increase, particularly within some hard-hit areas in the Bronx and Brooklyn, it is vital that we invest in youth violence prevention and healthy relationship education, in these at-risk communities. Abuse is learned, and RAPP and ERAPP can help stop violence before it starts. Together, we are weaving the fabric of a brighter and safer future for our youth, one founded on the enduring principles of love, respect, and compassion.

URI believes that a world free from domestic violence is possible, if we invest in the right solutions and support – as outlined in our Blueprint for Change.

As we celebrate love today and embark on Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, let us remember that ‘Love Like That’ is not just a theme; it’s a resounding call to action. RAPP and ERAPP are our tools to nurture a culture of healthy relationships, to reduce dating violence, and to empower our young generation to flourish in a world free from abuse.