JUPITER, Fla. — A unique curriculum designed by a local teen for teens about teen dating violence bears the name the “Butterfly Effect” and that’s exactly what Anna Theissen hopes comes of it.
“I hope that other girls and other teenagers can look at what I’ve been able to do and what I hope to continue to do and see that it doesn’t take a lot to make any sort of change in your community,” says Theissen.
Theissen, a high school senior from Jupiter, says her mission to create an easy to find, read, digest and discuss curriculum for teens her age is just an example of the small, yet significant change someone of any age can have on ending such an issue as teen dating violence.
Theissen teamed up with Julie Weil to sponsor her project. Weil survived being kidnapped from her Miami church parking lot and brutally raped in front of her two young children in 2002.
A huge part of Weil’s activism now is reaching younger people before them become a victim.
She says Theissen’s vision fit right in and fills a big void.
“It’s important to have a good solid foundation and to know where your boundaries are because if you don’t, you yourself could fall victim to episodes of dating violence and a pattern. You can establish a pattern in your life of accepting behavior that is not appropriate,” said Weil.
Weil points out that healthy relationships begin at Theissen’s age and it’s important to be educated at that time in life what it means to have boundaries and how to turn away behavior you don’t accept.
“The man who violated my children and I had started way back as a date rapist in northern Virginia, in relationships where he was abusing people and they wouldn’t report it because they were scared to report. They didn’t realize that any unwanted sexual touch is sexual assault,” said Weil.
The curriculum Theissen has created includes five days of material and 15-minute lessons covering everything from how to form a healthy relationship to recognizing dating violence.
“Being in high school and having so many of my friends entering relationships for the first time and talking to a boy for the first time there’s not a lot of information out there but it’s something that everybody experiences,” said Theissen.
Theissen says her goal is to help make the topic one that is more accepting within schools so educators, not only parents and counselors, can use the curriculum to help end teen dating violence.
“I wanted to be able to do something to combat that and not just sit idly by while my peers were being put into these situations that obviously weren’t healthy and they just didn’t realize it, said Theissen.
The curriculum can be found on the website Theissen created, https://butterflyeffectwpb.org/. It is free to access and easy to print.