(OVW Blog by Susan B. Carbon)
Washington, DC, Feb. 14, 2012 — Regardless of the day or month, many teens – including college students – often find themselves in unhealthy, sometimes abusive relationships that affect their quality of life, cause pain and concern among their families and friends, and interfere with school and community activities. Now is the time to learn about ways to recognize and prevent this violence.
During February, designated as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, we join President Obama to call for a focused effort to break the cycle of violence by providing support and services to the victims, their families and their communities. As President Obama stated:
The consequences of dating violence — spanning impaired development to physical harm — pose a threat to the health and well-being of teens across our Nation, and it is essential we come together to break the cycle of violence that burdens too many of our sons and daughters. This month, we recommit to providing critical support and services for victims of dating violence and empowering teens with the tools to cultivate healthy, respectful relationships.
Research indicates that teens and young women are especially vulnerable to experiencing violence in their relationships. In one year, nearly one in ten high school students has been hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend. And young people ages 18 and 19 experience the highest rates of stalking, which most often is committed by a current or former intimate partner for both male and female victims. The prevalence of violence in the dating relationships of teens is simply unacceptable.
We know that to reach young people, we need to speak their language. With that idea in mind, OVW is supporting outreach and education efforts by educators, advocates, and non-profits, including the That’s Not Cool.com, a national public education campaign that uses digital examples of controlling, pressuring, and threatening behavior to raise awareness about and prevent teen dating abuse. OVW also funds the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474. Teens can also text “loveis” to 22522 to reach an advocate or chat on line by clicking on the icon found on www.loveisrespect.org.
We must continue to advocate for the young people in our lives by providing safe spaces to have conversations about dating abuse and provide examples of healthy, violence-free relationships that include support, love and respect. Only by continuing to engage in discussions on these challenging and difficult issues can we call attention to teen dating violence. This is the first step towards preventing and ending the cycle of abuse. The resources listed in the President’s proclamation and in this blog are important resources that should be used, shared and discussed during February and throughout the year.