HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Breaking up is hard to do, and technology can make things worse. But now there's a new initiative that teaches teens how to avoid acting on impulse and how to break up "the right way.
In a recent survey, 10 percent of students reported being physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year.
Experts say social media is adding fuel to the fire of an ugly break-up.
"The challenge of text breakups is there's a character limit," said Casey Corcoran, Program Director of Futures without Violence.
He says the problem is so widespread that teenagers now need to be taught how to stay safe when relationships end.
"There are concrete skills that go into healthy breakups," he explained. "Teens need to know what they are and they need to have the opportunity to practice them in safe environment."
The federal government, high schools, colleges and insurance companies are investing in new teen violence prevention classes from coast to coast. The Breakup Summit, part of the Start Strong Initiative being taught on campuses nationwide, offers simple strategies to help teens break up better.
"We really want them to have the conversations around breakups and really make some decisions for themselves on how they're going to be the most respectful," said Nicole Daley with Start Strong.
Daley helps teach the Breakup Summit. She says in this day and age, educators have to add a fourth "r" to their lesson plans... reading, writing, arithmetic, and relationships.
"There's a lot on how to deal with the aftermath of a breakup, but there's not a lot that actually shares and talks about how do you want to have the conversation," said Daley.
For example, the program advocates face to face breakups in most cases.
"It allows for body language, tone of voice, it allows dialog," said Dailey.
And the curriculum suggests a technology time out.
"Posting something online is not the best decision. It usually serves to escalate the problem rather than de-escalate it," explained Corcoran. "It involves more people than need to be involved, and it can stay online forever."
And while breakups will never be fun, if they are done with respect, they will hurt a lot less.
"It's really great to actually have a healthy way to break up with a person. Even if you're not friends, every thing's just neutral so that person can move on."
While this program does advocate face to face breakup for most relationships, proponents stress that an abusive relationship should be ended remotely.