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February 2019 Blog

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1.5 million teens experience physical violence at the hands of a dating partner each year. This does not include millions of others who are experiencing verbal/emotional, sexual, financial, spiritual, or technological abuse in a relationship. Central Indiana is no exception. Abuse knows no limits and does not care your race, religion, income, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, level of education, or where you live. While we like to think that our teens are surrounded by safety and are unaware of potential harm, the reality is that they are saddled with pressure and expectations to fit into the mold of what they think others want them to be. Our teens believe that having a dating partner set guidelines of what they can wear means that they care; that rules about who they can be friends with means that they are looking out for their partner; that being hit by their partner means they made a mistake and need to do better next time. We are living in the time of social media where #relationshipgoals encourages teens to ignore the downsides of a current relationship and focus on their image and what other people can see. Teens see representations of relationships in the shows and movies they watch, the music they hear, and the books and magazines they read. Often, these depictions are not of healthy interactions between dating partners.

Knowing this, it is our responsibility as adults to promote a culture where we encourage conversation about relationships, provide support without judgement to teens who are struggling, and challenge our own misconceptions and messages we share to ensure we are modeling safe, stable, and nurturing relationships ourselves. Throughout February, Prevail will have daily social media posts and we encourage everyone to pick a day to wear orange, take a picture, and post it online using the hashtag #GoOrangePrevail.

I ask you to join Prevail in recognition of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). This February, look for our TDVAM toolkit (available on Prevail’s website at https://prevailinc.com/index.php/prevail-special-events/awareness-month-activities/teen-dating-violence-awareness-month), social media posts, and follow-ups to this article. Each of us has the opportunity to encourage and empower teens to create healthy connections with others. Please consider how you can support Prevail’s mission of eliminating violence from our community by promoting healthy relationships. Look for part 2 of this series next week for information about opening up conversations with the teens you interact with using teachable moments.

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