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The dangers of breaking up on social media

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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

Breaking up is hard to do and as we've seen in cases around the country, even with teens it can become violent and sometimes deadly.

Technology can make it even more hurtful. But now a new initiative is teaching kids how to control their impulses and break up the right way. Ultimately it's about keeping our kids safe.

The headlines are everywhere: Young Love Gone Horribly Wrong, Teen Dating Turned Deadly.

In fact, in a recent federal survey, 10 percent of students reported being physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year.

Breaking up is now a dangerous thing to do and experts say social media is adding fuel to the fire. "It's either text or it's either Facebook and everyone sees it, and it's just drama all over," said 15 year old Trey Smith.

Casey Corcoran, program director of Futures without Violence explains, "The challenge of text breakups is there's a character limit. You can only say so much. You don't get tone of voice, you don't get body language."

Corcoran told us, the problem is so widespread that teenagers now need to be taught how to stay safe when relationships end.

"There are concrete skills that go into healthy breakups. Teens need to know what they are, and they need to have the opportunity to practice them in a safe environment," said Corcoran.

The federal government, high schools, colleges, hospitals, and insurance companies are investing in new teen violence prevention classes from coast to coast.

The Break-Up Summit, part of the Start Strong initiative now being taught on campuses nationwide, offers simple strategies to help teens break up better.

"We really want them to have the conversation around breakups and really make some decisions for themselves on how they're going to be most respectful," said Nicole Daley who helps teach The Break-Up Summit with Start Strong. She says that in this day and age educators have to add a fourth "R" to their lesson plans: Reading, Riting, Rithmetic and Relationships.

"There's a lot on how to deal with the aftermath of a breakup but there's not a lot that actually shares and talks about how do you want to have the conversation," said Daley. One example the program advocates face-to-face breakups in most situations. 

Casey Corcoran says that face to face breakups "allows for body language, tone of voice. It allows for dialog." Corcoran cautions, "Posting something online is not the best decision. It usually serves to escalate the problem rather than de-escalate it. It involves more people than need to be involved and it can stay online forever."

While breakups will never be fun, if they're done with respect, they'll hurt a lot less. 

At 15 years old Trey Smith knows, "It's really great to actually have a healthy way to breakup with a person. Even if you're not friends, everything's just neutral, so that person can move on."

While the program does advocate face-to-face breakups for most relationships, proponents stress that an abusive relationship should be ended remotely.

 

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