New elementary curriculum aimed at curbing adulthood domestic violence

Image 1 of 5

A Sarasota-based group hopes to teach young students the keys to being in a healthy relationship, but what they're really teaching is the difference between good and bad behaviors.

For the adults, it's a way to teach kids the tools they'll need to avoid situations of domestic violence. For the children, it's a basic lesson in self-worth and boundaries.

At Fruitville Elementary in Sarasota, Camille Chapman is teaching students about healthy relationships and avoiding bad behavior. 

"How many of you have witnessed some bad behavior?" she asked a class during her Healthy Relationships class. 

Her questions may seem delicate, but the students are ready with answers.

"I block things that say, like, bad words," said one student. 

Another explained a behavior she didn't like. 

"I don't like it when people touch my hair or when they touch me," she said. 

Chapman works as an educator with SPARCC, Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center. Her goal is to tailor a specific message for the audience; in this case, it's elementary school students. 

She helps them understand the difference between healthy and abusive relationships. 

"So why are we talking about all of this? So that you can stand up for yourself. So you can understand you do have that right to say 'No,'" she told the class. 

Educators with SPARCC work throughout the school year to bring their five-series course to elementary, middle, and high school students. 

"They really need to know what's healthy. They can see sometimes maybe what's unhealthy, but to make those choices from themselves it's often very difficult," said Chapman. 

By the time they are finished teaching the course, they will have reached more than 5,000 students. 

"These are skills that can actually be taught and I think with knowing about boundaries and empathy and things like that they are better to learn," said Chapman. 

Chapman works to help students understand the feelings of others while building up self-esteem and working to end bullying. 

Educators are hopeful these students will share their new lessons. Their 4th-grade teacher, Marsha Mayers continues the education once Chapman finishes her lessons.  

"I feel like they are going to be more empathetic and that they are going to be more apt to help others than to just be concerned about themselves or just want the like. They will really be more caring," said Mayers