Many youth experience stress including violence and abuse at home, in the community, and in their peer or dating relationships. They need emotional support and intervention to heal from trauma and build skills for healthy relationships.

Support groups provide a safe environment to increase emotion regulation and communication skills, identify qualities of healthy relationships, challenge unhealthy gender norms, learn skills for supportive peer and dating relationships, and experience a sense of belonging and connection.

In secondary schools, licensed counselors and trained facilitators provide 24 weekly curriculum-based sessions; in elementary schools the curriculum consists of 16 sessions. In addition, individual counseling and advocacy are provided to help keep children safe, healthy, and in school. All services are provided during the school day and are free and confidential.

Expect Respect groups support students who:

  • Have experienced any form of violence or abuse
  • Are involved in unhealthy peer or dating relationships
  • Have difficulty managing anger
  • Are involved in bullying or sexual harassment
  • Worry about making their partner angry or jealous
  • Use alcohol or drugs
  • Are pregnant or parenting
  • Appear socially isolated from peers

“I realized that my girlfriend was pressuring me to do bad things. I kept getting into trouble around her when I was with her, so I broke up with her, because it was not a healthy relationship.”
– Male support group participant

“My counselor helped me understand that the abuse was not my fault. She also taught me ways to relax when I was feeling anxious in class.”
– Female support group participant

“The girls who participated in this group were eager to learn and interact with the Expect Respect facilitator and their peers. I have seen the participants mature and carry themselves differently on campus since participating in group.”
– School counselor

“The boys were committed to the group. They matured over this past year and many become more aware of their decisions and gained more self-awareness about their own relationships and red flags that may be emerging.”
– CIS manager

Program evaluation

An evaluation conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, demonstrated that Expect Respect support groups are an effective strategy to reduce peer aggression among high-risk adolescent boys and girls, and additionally reduce teen dating violence perpetration and victimization among boys. To see additional publications please click here.

Participating schools (2019-20)

Austin ISD

  • Elementary schools: Allison, Cook
  • Middle schools: Bedichek, Burnet, Covington, Martin, Murchison, Paredes, Sadler-Means, Small, Webb
  • High schools: Akins, Anderson, Austin, Bowie, Crockett, Eastside, Garza, International, Lanier, LBJ, McCallum, Reagan, Travis

Manor ISD

  • Middle schools: Decker, Manor
  • High schools: Manor, Manor New Tech

Charter Schools

  • Elementary school: East Austin College Prep
  • High schools: East Austin College Prep
  • SAFE School

Contact

To make a referral, contact Agnes Aoki, aaoki@safeaustin.org, 512.356.1621