Ques­tions about what could’ve been done dif­fer­ently arose recently in Steubenville, Ohio, in Tor­rington, Con­necticut, and in other com­mu­ni­ties where teen dating vio­lence and sexual assault drew national atten­tion. Blame bounces around the victim’s clothes, the amount she drank, whether she “put her­self in that sit­u­a­tion,” and to the per­pe­tra­tors, par­ents and society for fos­tering a cul­ture in which vio­lence among teens — sexual and oth­er­wise — makes reg­ular headlines.

The goal is to chal­lenge per­cep­tions of “normal behavior” and make teens aware of the nuanced inter­ac­tions that create a hos­tile cli­mate. It could be as simple as diverting a friend’s atten­tion when he hollers at a girl on the street, encour­aging your sister to talk to her boyfriend instead of secretly checking his texts, sneaking off to call 911 when the pop­ular guys start messing with a girl who’s barely conscious.

A National Merit Scholar finalist and co-​​captain of the cham­pion lacrosse team, Chen added to his busy schedule this year by joining the school’s “Men­tors in Vio­lence Pre­ven­tion” team formed in response to Lauren’s death.

The pro­gram was devel­oped in 1993 at North­eastern University’s Sport in Society. It enlists stu­dent ath­letes and leaders to speak out against sexual harass­ment and other forms of abuse typ­i­cally con­sid­ered “women’s issues.”

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