Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention

teen-dating-violence

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month – which emphasizes the importance of Chrysalis’ partnership with Mercy Medical Center to deliver GirlPower, the healthy relationship/violence prevention lessons for girls in Chrysalis After-School (CAS) programs.

We developed GirlPower several years ago, after a series of community violence prevention gatherings (convened by Mercy Medical Center) resulted in agreement that teen dating violence is an issue we can collectively address.  Mercy’s parent organization, Catholic Health Initiatives, has provided funding for us to train high school girls to be teen mentors for healthy relationships for the girls in CAS programs.

Why is this issue important?  Because:

  • one in three teens are experiencing dating abuse in our community
  • abuse can include verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and digital (cyber) abuse
  • 72% of 7th graders report they are “dating”
  • most teens never report this abuse

We’re most often unaware of the abuse teens are experiencing.  Some of the early indicators are:

  • decrease in school attendance and grades
  • excessive texting
  • anxiety or depression
  • discontinuing activities they previously enjoyed
  • change in dress/apparel
  • stops spending time with friends
  • “boyfriend” is extremely possessive and jealous
  • engaging in binge drinking or physical fighting
  • attempting suicide

Middle school is the time for parents and educators to have conversations about healthy relationships, and results from our Chrysalis After-School program evaluations are encouraging.

What can you do?  If you have teens, talk with them about healthy relationships and boundaries.  If your friends have teens, share this information to make them aware of the danger and potential for violence in teen relationships.

Everyone wants to reduce violence in our community.

For Chrysalis, prevention is such a great investment.

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