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Healthy Relationships: Healthy Friendships
Healthy FriendshipsA Message from Visitation School's Counseling Team:

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Happy New Year! The Counseling Team at Visitation recognizes that healthy friendships are vital to a positive school culture and are supported through our daily practice of Salesian Spirituality. However, as we know, friendships at all stages of our children's academic lives can be tricky and are ever changing.

This year our work on healthy relationships first addressed the topic of culture creation at Visitation. Students across divisions learned that they control school culture by how they treat each other. Conversations in October and November facilitated students learning about the role of emotions in their relationships. Additionally during these conversations, students learned about, then practiced, effective communication skills for use during their difficult times in friendships. In Middle and Upper School students learned about the Non-Violent Communication Method.

This month and next, our healthy relationships work will focus on healthy friendships. As we move into this topic parents of Middle and Upper School students may find it helpful to read the following articles: 11 Truths About Friendships Every Girl Needs to Know; and Talking to Teens About Friendships. Scientists from Charles Darwin to contemporary neuroscience researchers have found that human beings are wired for friendship. We all need to understand each other and treat each other with compassion and empathy to have healthy, happy lives. The Lower School students continue to learn ways to "stop, name your feeling and calm down." As parents, our role in helping our children develop friendships is critical. Here's an insightful article on this topic: How to help your child build healthier friendships and deal with the tetchy ones.

Advisory time in Middle and Upper School will have age-appropriate lessons that discuss the traits of healthy relationships, identify behavior patterns of unhealthy relationships and describe the red flags of abuse in relationships. In addition to affirming their own inner resources, students will learn about available resources and support at school, home and in the larger community. Lower School students social-emotional lessons with Ms. Kelley will continue building self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and friendships skills.

For Upper School students we will be straddling this important content as it applies to both friendship and dating relationships. A difficult statistic that supports our work in this area is that one in three teens in the United States will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse by someone they are in a relationship with before they become adults. Nearly half (43%) of college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors. For Upper School, a key website for students to visit this month and next is from the Love is Respect organization. This organization is a leader in the prevention of teen dating violence and offers extensive educational tools for students and educators alike.

We look forward to our conversations with our students and are grateful for your partnership and trust. Please be in touch with any questions or concerns about this topic.

Dr. Jules Nolan, School Psychologist
Anne Gimpl, Lead US Counselor
Elisha Schaibley, US Counselor
Julie Linscheid, MS Counselor
Kelley Stoneburner, LS Counselor