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February is Teen Violence Prevention Month

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In 2006, the national government officially recognized the first week in February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week. In 2010, Congress announced that the entire month of February would be deemed National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. During the month, people around the nation participate in activities that promote education and awareness about teen dating abuse. This is a crucial time to talk openly about healthy and unhealthy relationships, warning signs and what we can do to lessen the frequency of dating abuse.

Teens have their own unique challenges when it comes to dating and dating violence. As a teen, your significant other is most likely in your circle of friends and in your school therefore avoidance is tough in the aftermath of a break up. In the adult world, domestic violence survivors are told to avoid their abusers as much as possible however in the teen world this isn’t always an option. According to the CDC, one in four teens will experience some level of dating violence in the next year; look at your daughter and her 3 best friends and knowing that one of them will be a victim is a sobering thought.

Fifty-two percent of college women know someone who has been the victim of dating abuse (including physical, sexual, verbal, controlling and even digital abuse) according to the Liz Claiborne Inc. 2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll.

Education, awareness and intervention are key to stopping dating abuse. February is a chance to increase all three. If we know the signs of dating abuse, then we can recognize it when we, or a friend or family member, experiences it. If we feel comfortable talking about healthy relationships, then we will be empowered to be respectful partners and speak out when things aren’t right. If we know what resources are available, then we can guide a friend or even ourselves to help if and when we need it.

During the month of February becoming educated and increase your awareness to those around you, you may be the person to save a life.

For more information on National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month please contact www.loveisrespect.org or your local domestic violence agency; Orange County can contact Human Options (www.humanoptions.org) or Laura’s House (www.laurashouse.org)

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