As I look back on the years when I was teaching sexuality education in the public schools, I remember that nearly every time I completed the lesson, we called the “Love Test,” I would have at least 3 to 4 students waiting to talk to me after class. The love test was a component that came immediately after the unit on healthy relationships. Once students learned about the characteristics of a healthy relationship –some students sensed the relationship they were in might not be healthy, and they wanted to talk to someone immediately.
These students would wait until everyone left the room and always asked the same question, “So If I want to test my relationship and stop having sex, how would I do that?”
I would spend at least 25 minutes walking through the communication strategies they could use with their partner to communicate their desire for new sexual boundaries. For example, go to a public place, start your conversation with, “I would like to talk about our relationship. I feel like …” Now days, young people might call this Love Bombing and then ghosting,
Lovebombing: therapy-speak for when an abusive romantic partner or loved one deluges you with gifts, praise, and affirmation as a form of manipulation, this term has made its way to mental health TikTok where it is applied to a variety of different situations, eg., “I thought he really loved me because he went for my birthday, but he’s been ghosting me when we are around his friends ever since. Total lovebomber.”
Over the years, I received hundreds of letters from these same students thanking me because they learned that they were being used for sex instead of being in a truly healthy relationship. That was many years ago when Erin’s Law didn’t exist.
Erin’s Law passed in Illinois in 2010 and is currently in 37 states and considered in another 13 states. Today, I would qualify the entire health and sexuality education unit with an introduction to the unit.
“I want you to know that some of the information over the next few weeks may feel uncomfortable to you, especially if someone like an older adult or someone in authority is touching you inappropriately. You may feel scared to tell someone. If this is your experience, I encourage you to talk with another trusted adult or me like a school counselor in a safe environment. I want you to know it’s not your fault, and it’s not okay for someone to treat you the way you are being treated now or in the past.
Over the next few weeks, we will be learning about qualities of healthy relationships, red flags that alert you to someone who is unhealthy, and you will learn how to protect yourself and your future goals and dreams.”
If your state has passed Erin’s Law, contact our office today! Kids deserve to be protected and Healthy Futures – Nu Culture is an effective tool for your middle school. Email me at Lisa@healthy-futures.org.