Time to talk about teen dating violence

During February many of us think of love and relationships, but it has also become a time to increase awareness about teen dating violence. According to Ohio’s Family Violence Prevention Center, “The Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Initiative was spearheaded by teenagers across the nation who chose to take a stand and put a stop to teen dating violence. In 2005, the importance of addressing teen dating violence was highlighted by its inclusion in the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act”.

Through my current internship at Eve, Incorporated a nonprofit organization that offers protection, counseling and advocacy for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, I have become aware of the importance of prevention programs that work with youth to address a variety of issues to help them become more knowledgeable about healthy relationships and the resources that are available to them if they are in an abusive relationship. Dating violence not only has negative effect on the victim and the perpetrators, but also impacts society. According to the Center for Disease Control Fact Sheet (2012) “Among adult victims of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, 22.4% of women and 15.0% of men first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age”, which then impacts the criminal justice system, mental health agencies, and health care facilities.

One program currently available at Eve, Inc. through a HealthPath Foundation Grant is Safe Dates, an evidence based program that helps to teach teens about conflict management, coping skills, and healthy relationships. The program also provides resources and information to parents. I believe prevention is one of the important components in trying to address teen dating violence. Partner violence can impact so many areas of youths’ lives, so if it can be prevented before it becomes even more destructive that is fundamental. With the changes in technology there are so many ways that teens can be abusive to each other. It has never been more important for parents to be able discuss and be aware of their children’s dating relationships, and for increased community awareness.

There are a variety of resources and support for teens and parents. The Family Violence Prevention Center through the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services has a website, there is an Eve Safe Dates Facebook page, or contact EVE at 374-5820 and ask for prevention specialist Lashley Earley for additional information about Safe Dates, or other prevention programs.

Melissa Weckbacher

Lowell