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05-February is Teen Violence Awareness Month08
Black and Blue Valentine
How many of you remember those anxiety filled moments every February 14th when Valentines were passed out in the lunch room; hoping you would get one from your crush? I remember them too, but now that I supervise the lunch room instead of eat in it; February is a month for something besides hearts and flowers. February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
As a teacher and volunteer for Safe Voices’ youth program: Voices Committed to Change, I’m unfortunately made aware of teen dating violence every month. All too often unhealthy relationship behaviors in teens are excused because of age or inexperience. Because teen dating abuse is as serious as domestic abuse, in fact one in five girls will be physically or sexually abused by a dating partner; we can’t continue to write it off as puppy love.
So here are five things you can do to make a difference:
1.Listen to the teens in your life. One in three teens report knowing a friend who has been physically hurt by his or her partner. Whether it is your teen or someone else, your action and voice does count.
2.Be aware of what’s going on in your home. The majority of teen dating abuse occurs in the home of one of the partners.
3.Look for changes in your teen’s behavior. Victims of dating abuse may change clothing styles, want to skip school or quit extracurricular activities, and avoid friends. Trust your instincts; you know when there’s something wrong.
4.Know what teen dating violence can look like. It’s not always a black eye or bruises. Controlling behaviors such as threatening to commit suicide or spread gossip if you break up or expecting to spend every second together are much more prevalent.
5.Know what resources are available. If you’re not sure what to say to the teens in your life we can help. Safevoices.org is a great place to start and our 24 hour helpline 1-800-559-2927 is always there.
As you are eating those leftover heart shaped chocolates please remember: between this Valentine’s Day and next, one in four adolescents will report verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
*Statistics are from Choose Respect, a national initiative to help adolescents and young teens age 11-14 form healthy relationships to prevent dating abuse.