February is Not Just About Valentines and Hearts
For most every hopeless romantic, February means sweethearts, candy, and Valentines. All those things are great! I mean, if you are into that mushy stuff. However, did you know that February is also teen dating violence awareness month? Aside from all the chocolates and kisses, this month is also dedicated to raise awareness about teen dating violence, take action, and work toward a solution.
When you think of teens and dating, domestic violence is probably not the direction your mind goes. However youth.gov states that, youth age 12 to 19 have the highest rates of rape and sexual assault nationwide. The research also shows that girls are more prone to experiencing relationship violence and are more likely to suffer long-term behavioral and health consequences, including suicide attempts, eating disorders, and drug use.
Adolescents in abusive relationships often end up the victims and perpetrators of intimate partner violence in their adult lives as well. The impact of teen dating violence can last a lifetime So, it’s time for us to get informed and spread awareness.
What is TDV?
Teen dating violence or TDV according to the CDC is a form of intimate partner violence, that occurs between two teenagers in a close relationship. It can take place in person or electronically, going from teasing and name calling to repeated texting and posting sexual pictures online without consent.
Here are four types of behavior:
- Physical violence- this includes hitting, kicking, or any other type of physical force.
- Sexual violence- includes forcing or attempting to force a sex act, sexual touching, or a non-physical sexual event (e.g., sexting) when the partner does not or cannot consent.
- Psychological aggression- using verbal and non-verbal communication to harm a person mentally or emotionally and/or exert control over them.
- Stalking– is to cause fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close, by using a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact.
No Longer Puppy Love
Last year, about 1 in 10 teens that were dating had also been physically abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend. In addition, it was found that of the more than 2,000 teens killed between 2003 and 2016, nearly 7 percent, or 150 teens, were killed by their current or former girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s important to know the statistics, because violence can so quickly turn deadly.
Did you know?
- 1 in 11 females and 1 in 15 males report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year.
- About 1 in 9 females and 1 in 36 males report having experienced sexual dating violence in the last year.
- 26% of women and 15% of men reported that they first experienced violence by a partner before age 18. This includes sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner.
Educate, Empower, and Encourage
Now that you know the seriousness of this epidemic and why this month is dedicated to raise awareness, it’s time to take action, and work toward a solution to ending teen dating violence. The formula is clear! Educate, Empower, and Encourage.
- Educate teens by utilizing teachers and inviting speakers in to hold discussions about dating violence and prevention inside the classroom.
- Empower schools to create policies that support healthy relationships and involve student voices.
- Encourage parents to talk with their teens about healthy relationships.
It has often been said it takes a village to raise a child, well let’s come together as a village to save one. To find more information about teen dating violence and how to get involved with this monumental movement checkout these resources:
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2020) Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
- CDC (2020) Preventing Teen Dating Violence
- Youth.gov (2020) Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month
Together we can end teen dating violence!
Help eliminate teen dating violence!
April Jackson-Hunter was born in March of 77, she currently lives in Georgia with her family. She received a Master of Art in Forensic Psychology from Argosy University, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Herzing University. Her story isn’t different from anyone else’s, she took a portion of her life that wouldn’t be forgotten and harnessed it. After experiencing violence at the hands of someone who was supposed to love her, she battled fear, guilt, and shame until she couldn’t mentally handle it anymore. After seeking help for what she thought were mental instabilities, she received some game changing advice. A counselor suggested that she start a journal in an attempt to help with recurring nightmares and insomnia issues. The journal she started transformed her into the author of her book which She entitled Mercedes’ Closet: Keeping Deadly Secrets. Mrs. Jackson-Hunter is also an advocate, whose passion is to assist victims of domestic/partner violence in the LGBTQ community. Her mission is to help victims of domestic/partner violence understand they are not alone. She feels everyone needs to feel as though there is someone in their corner during a dark time. For this reason, she founded Mercedes’ Closet which is a nonprofit geared to offering support and resources in the LGBTQ community for not only victims of domestic/partner violence but also victims of other violent crimes such as rape, hate crimes, as well as transviolence, which is due to officially launch in the mid of 2020.