February National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
At the United States Attorney’s Office, prosecutors regularly handle the most horrific cases of violence. One type of violence which is often hidden and unreported is teen dating violence. Unfortunately, the physical and emotional damage from such an event can be long standing.
In a nationwide survey, 9.4 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey).
About 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey).
Reasons for such violence vary, but they include the fact that teens may lack the experience to navigate romantic relationships, or are unable to voice their feelings or communicate when emotional situations take a turn for the worse. When adolescents find the courage to tell their friends about being in an abusive relationship, statistics show that more times than not, their friends won’t know what to do to get them help.
To help address this situation, February has been designated as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. To further add to the resources parents and teens can utilize, I’m happy to report that our office will host a round table discussion of teen dating violence on February 28, 2013.
This event will draw approximately one dozen young people from across the region to discuss real-life situations of teen dating violence. The round table panel will include a member of a local assistance organization, as well as a young person who herself was victimized. Canisius College has graciously agreed to serve as the host location for this event.
My hope is that the participants will be able to shine the light of day on this troubling phenomenon. Because the entire event will be available via webcast to schools, the round table discussion can be more broadly used as an educational tool, as well as a starting point for further discussion.
Let me also recommend that parents continue to stay involved in the lives of their children, and work to keep the lines of communication with them open. If you are a parent of a teenager, do you know the names and faces of three of their friends? Chances are, one of them—maybe your own son or daughter—will be in an abusive relationship.
Model healthy, non-violent relationships in your own homes. Learn how to identify the signs of abuse. Educate yourself, and assist young people in locating services if they or someone they know is experiencing a physically or emotionally abusive relationship.
Working to end violence in the community remains one of the highest priorities of the United States Attorney’s Office. By addressing the issue of teen dating violence with your children, and by encouraging your local school to view next week’s free web event, you too will not only help address this serious issue, you will join me in protecting all of our area’s children at the same time.