Workshop Teaches Dental Students How to Identify and Avoid Unhealthy Relationships

Dentistry Today


The Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) is the first dental school in the nation to offer programming to its students from the One Love Foundation, which educates young people about health and unhealthy relationships. 

The One Love Foundation, which also empowers young people to identify and avoid abuse, was founded by the family of Yeardley Love, a 22-year-old college student who was killed by her ex-boyfriend. Representatives from the group taught workshops at GSDM in August and October.

“If you think this doesn’t happen in Massachusetts—in Boston University, or at GSDM—you are sadly mistaken,” said Joseph Calabrese, DMD, associate dean of students, said during the workshop on October 1.

“By making this a public conversation, we hope to empower our students and help them understand and identify warning signals,” Calabrese said.

Incoming students from the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) Class of 2023 and the DMD Advanced Standing (DMD AS) Class of 2021 attended the August workshop as part of their two-week orientation, while members of the DMD Class of 2022 attended the October workshop.

During both workshops, One Love Foundation engagement coordinators discussed the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships with students before showing a short film that follows a couple through the span of a relationship.

The film displays several unhealthy or dangerous behaviors and uses social media to demonstrate how things are not always what they appear to be online. Students then discussed the events that the film depicted and how they related to healthy or unhealthy behaviors.

According to One Love engagement coordinator Anneke Reich, the students benefitted from the training as individuals who engage in relationships and as dental professionals who see patients.

According to a 2009 article in the Journal of Dental Education, one national survey of domestic violence shelters found that 76% of respondents had suffered physical abuse in the head and neck area. A second survey found that 87% of dentists said they have never screened patients about domestic violence.

“It is extremely important that our students are informed about relationship violence, both as individuals and as oral healthcare providers,” said dean Jeffrey W. Hutter, DMD, MEd. “I am proud that the Office of Student Affairs was able to bring this programming to GSDM and am so pleased we will continue to offer it to future classes.”

Student Affairs plans to hold the workshop annually as a part of orientation.

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