Welcome Back Wildcats!
I hope you all had a fun, safe, and relaxing winter break! The month of February is nationally known as of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. What is Teen Dating Violence and does it actually happen? Teen Dating Violence is “the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner”. (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention). In fact, 1 in 3 U.S teens will experience some sort of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by someone they are in a relationship with before they become an adult (Love is Respect). This statistic is very concerning especially when education around this topic could help prevent it from occurring.
What are the effects of teen dating violence? Teens can be effected in many ways by this issue. Teens can show signs of anxiety and/or depression. They can become more involved in drug and alcohol use. They may show antisocial behaviors. Also, teens who are victims in high school are often at higher risk for victimization in college. These effects alone should be an indicator the importance of implementing prevention programs at a younger age. Imagine if in middle school signs of a healthy relationship and non-healthy relationship were taught? Why don’t we start educating BEFORE we enter the dating world?
I have mentioned before (in my very first post) that I designed a program on the topic of sexual assault for my former high school. I presented my program to a sophomore class and a senior class. The feedback I got was amazing. These students were interested in the topic and never exposed to it before. It is a fact that sexual abuse can occur at any age so why isn’t it taught in high school? Even being allowed to present this topic was challenging which makes me wonder why we go around education on these topics. Earlier education around healthy relationships in middle school or earlier is the key to making a difference. Even campaigns like this February awareness project should be implemented in schools or at a minimum, talked about. I guarantee not many teens even know that it is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month!
If you know someone who is a victim of teen dating violence, you can be a huge help to them! Express to them that you are worried and be a good listener. Offering support to someone can make a big difference. It is also very important to ask them how you can help them and become educated on healthy relationships. Lastly never blame the victim, and encourage them to seek help!
How do we make a difference? We MUST talk, have conversations about this topic. Teen Dating Violence does not need to occur and no one deserves to be a victim. Let’s teach teens the signs of an abusive relationship in order to prevent it from happening. Here at SHARPP we support anyone who is a victim of dating violence and have information on what is and is not, a healthy relationship!