Teen Prevention Program


The Problem of Teen Dating Abuse

In 1999, Hope’s Door began to address the issue of teen dating abuse.

At that time, national data revealed:

  • 25% of teen victims tell no one about the abuse; of those who seek help, 66% tell a friend and 26% tell a parent (Carlson, 1987).
We joined with the Junior League of Northern Westchester to co-sponsor our county’s first teen dating abuse symposium, which attracted 350 Westchester County teens. We surveyed those teens about their dating abuse experiences and who they would tell if they were being abused. The results mirrored the national data. Clearly, young people were at risk for dating abuse and reluctant to tell their parents or other adults.

Our Key Strategies

We quickly identified “breaking the silence” as a key strategy in our dating abuse awareness and intervention efforts. Since young people were reluctant to talk with adults, we engaged youth in our program design, implementation and evaluation. The result of our collaboration with youth is the “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” program.

Love Shouldn’t Hurt Program

Love Shouldn’t Hurt is an awareness, intervention, and prevention initiative that addresses the serious issue of abuse in dating relationships. Its purpose is to empower young people with the skills to distinguish between relationships based on power and control and those based on equality, respect and trust. Young people also learn strategies to help themselves and their peers confronting abuse.

There are three components to Love Shouldn’t Hurt:

  • Workshops: We conduct interactive workshops in middle schools, high schools, colleges and community-based sites. Young people are empowered with potentially life-saving information on abuse, engage in role playing scenarios that distinguish between abusive and healthy relationships, learn about community resources, and receive hotline cards and other resource information that encourages them to call if they or a friend need help with abuse. Each workshop culminates with an invitation to join the STAR peer leadership program and to promote relationships based on equality, respect and trust.
Workshop Northern Boces
  • STAR Peer Leadership Program: Young people that accept our challenge to join STAR (Students Talking About Relationships) come together in their schools and communities to design and implement awareness events that promote healthy relationships based on equality, respect, and trust.
  • Teen Symposium: At our annual symposium, students learn about dating violence and healthy relationships, engage in a dialogue about the issue, and are challenged to make a difference by joining our STAR peer leadership program. We also offer separate workshops for educators and counseling professionals.

STAR Chapter Locations

In 2016, STAR chapters operated out of these locations:

  • Alexander Hamilton High School/Middle School (Elmsford)
  • Hendrick Hudson High School (Montrose)
  • Hope's Door (Pleasantville)
  • Maria Regina High School (Hartsdale)
  • New Rochelle High School (New Rochelle)
  • Ossining High School (Ossining)
  • Scarsdale High School (Scarsdale)
  • The Ursuline School (New Rochelle)
  • Walter Panas High School (Cortlandt Manor)
  • Westlake High School (Mount Pleasant)
  • White Plains High School (White Plains)
  • Yorktown High School (Yorktown)

Follow us on social media:

Facebook    Twitter (@STARatHOPESDOOR)  Instagram (@StarAtHopesDoor)


Here are selected results of our work with teens in our community:

  • The number of teen victims who would tell no one about the abuse dropped from 25% to 16% - a decrease of 36%.
  • The number of teens who would tell a parent grew from 25% to 41% - an increase of 64%.
  • The number of teens who would tell a friend grew from 66% to 84% - an increase of 27%.

Acknowledging our Funders

We achieved our outcomes due to widespread support from private donors and these supporters:

  • Avon Foundation
  • Cappelli Foundation
  • CitiBank
  • County of Westchester
  • Eileen Fisher
  • Elizabeth G. Butler Angel’s Fund
  • HSBC
  • Junior League of Northern Westchester
  • MBIA Foundation
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities
  • St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church
  • Target
  • TJX Foundation
  • United Way
  • Verizon
  • Verizon Wireless
  • Westchester Community Foundation



Love Shouldn’t Hurt has received these awards:

  • 2001 – Program of the Year, Westchester Women’s Equality Day Committee
  • 2002 – Youth Leadership Award, Westchester Children’s Association
  • 2004 – Best Mission, Westchester County Youth Action Convention
  • 2005 – Best Mission, Westchester County Youth Action Convention
  • 2006 – Dedication Award, Youth Action Convention
  • 2007 – Leadership Group of Most Interest, Youth Action Convention
  • 2008 – Leadership Group of Most Interest, Youth Action Convention


Love Shouldn’t Hurt has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, Glamour Magazine, Teen People Magazine, the Journal News, local broadcast media, local print and online media, and the PBS show “In the Mix” by independent producer Sue Castle.

National Recognition

When the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services sponsored the first federal conference on teen dating abuse, one of our STAR peer leaders was invited to participate — one of only four teens in the nation.

International Recognition

When Hungary was addressing the issue of escalating teen dating abuse and violence, the American ambassador to Hungary secured technical assistance from Hope’s Door for that country’s efforts to stem the tide of dating abuse.

Love Shouldn’t Hurt Corporate, Community and Foundation Funders



County of Westchester

Elizabeth G. Butler Angel's Fund


Ronald McDonald House Charities

St. Matthews Episcopal Church


In Closing

Love Shouldn’t Hurt and STAR are among the most important initiatives we have undertaken to break the cycle of violence. We are not only making a difference in the lives of young people affected by dating abuse today, but perhaps more importantly, STAR peer leaders are learning positive lessons in leadership that will foster the development of socially committed adults possessing faith in their own abilities to effect long-term social change and to achieve greater social equality that is not constrained by race, class, color, faith, sexual orientation or gender.


For more information, contact:

Kristen Orlando

914.747.0828 x 1014

Click here to make a donation to the teen program directly