by Michael Yonas, DrPH


This month’s upcoming feature in the New Pittsburgh Courier on newsstands Wed. Oct. 17 focuses on healthy teen relationships and dating violence prevention. It is a continuation of our knowledge-sharing series, focusing on health disparities in the Pittsburgh region. It is a collaboration among the New Pittsburgh Courier, Community PARTners (a core service of the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute—CTSI) and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. Michael Yonas, DrPH, assistant professor of family medicine at Pitt, sat down with Esther L. Bush, president and CEO of the Urban League, to talk about this month’s focus.

MY: Ms. Bush, I know from working with you that supporting the health and achievement of young people is close to your heart and the mission of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. What are your thoughts about this month’s overview on healthy teen relationships?

EB: I have to admit that the statistics and information shared about the abuse young people are experiencing in relationships is heartbreaking. It is especially hard to hear that more than thirty percent of young women will be hurt in a relationship in their lifetime. I know that this is an important public health issue facing individuals from all backgrounds and ages. I hope everyone who reads this piece will cut out and share the information in this segment about “warning signs” for teen dating violence! It’s also very important to spread the news about some of the research studies and local resources available for teens and their families to address this issue.

MY: For parents, adults who work with young people and for teens, preventing relationship violence is an issue we all need to be aware of because we are in a position to help. It was encouraging to learn more about studies going on right now.

EB: Yes, I am very encouraged by and supportive of the creative new studies highlighted in this month’s segment—like working together with adults and athletic coaches to support both girls and boys. The Maikuru project builds upon the key principles of mentorship by bringing together teen girls and adult mentors. In addition, the nationally recognized Coaching Boys into Men (CBIM) study shows the importance and value of working with young boys and their coaches. This study has been conducted around the country and is now in Western Pennsylvania. Teaching and supporting coaches to talk with their athletes about the importance of respectful and nonviolent behaviors toward girls is incredibly important. We see and hear in the media too often about the culture of violence against women and girls. This intervention program has been shown to bring about real change in boys’ willingness to step in and prevent abusive behaviors.

MY: I’ve learned a lot from this month’s segment about the importance and value of being aware, being involved and developing new knowledge for ways to help teens be in healthy relationships.

EB: Absolutely, Michael. As with all of our segments, I want to encourage others to learn more, ask questions and get involved in research. People can call the Community PARTners Core for more information about participating in research at 1-866-422-1575. They can also call the study contacts that are listed in this month’s segment to learn how to participate in the highlighted studies. I also always encourage adults to find ways to get involved as volunteers, mentors or coaches to support the positive development of our boys and girls living here in Allegheny County.

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