Showing Students #ThatsNotLove

by Tate Harrop ‘17

Love-struck teenagers often believe their feelings for each other will last forever. Many young people, however, find that it is not all sunshine and rainbows in a high school relationship, and passion can become out of control and unhealthy. The health curriculum is trying to tackle this problem with the assistance of the One Love instructional program.

What defines an unhealthy relationships is often unclear, which is problematic because some students do not realize they are in this kind of situation until after it ends, especially when it comes to emotional, not physical, manipulation.

An anonymous senior recalls a relationship that she believes turned abusive. “He told me not to hang out with any of my friends and would even get mad if I talked to any other guy,” said the student. “He was controlling me, and I was afraid to make him angry.”

After being together for six months she started to realize how her significant other was affecting her. Health teachers are looking to give support to other students in similar situations.

The One Love foundation has produced a support system in teaching students what makes a healthy relationship and how to tell when it becomes harmful. Sherwood health teachers were looking for just
that to improve the unit of abusive relationships.

One Love was created in 2010 in honor of a University of Virginia lacrosse player, Yeardley Love, who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend. The group’s goal is to raise awareness and encourage communities to change the statistics around relationship violence. The hashtag #ThatsNotLove has led to an entire campaign to emphasize the movement.

The foundation has created short digital messages and public service announcements titled “That’s Not Love” to demonstrate the indications of a relationship that is not love as well as workshops for educators. In addition, One Love created a 40-minute film titled “Escalation” to further promote the awareness of abusive relationships.

After showing this film, health teachers put together an activity in which students could place postit notes on a poster with two different sides labeled love and not love. Students put healthy relationship qualities on the love side and unhealthy on the notlove side. As a result, students are able to better identify an abusive relationship.

“To finally have an organization that students can actually relate to and really learn from is exciting,” said Health teacher Matthew Parsons. “There was silence in the room after students watched the film because of the impact it had.