Teens Need To Know About Dating Violence News, Sports, Jobs
Since its inception in 1893, the mission of the YWCA has been to empower women of all ages. It means providing resources, a safe place to rest, eat and socialize. The services provided have evolved over the past few years, but the primary focus of empowering lives remains. Educating the community has long been part of our mission to empower women while promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Subsequently, we have a prevention educator who is dedicated to preventing the first perpetration of violence and promoting referrals through education.
Since February was Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, that’s what our Prevention Educator, Jennifer Swanson, teaches. On February 12 and 19, she visited Clear Vision in Montgomery to help teens understand that dating violence can happen in any relationship.
His lesson began like this: After a little “test” to see what the teens knew, Swanson asked, “What do you think is the definition of teen dating violence? Although the teens answered the question well, I wonder what you think that implies. Is it physical violence? Verbal, emotional or mental control?
It can be all of the above; it’s when one partner takes control of another. What one might consider flattering could be a form of abuse. Maybe a partner wants to know where you are at all times and who you are with. Or maybe they want you to dress a certain way. Or maybe you are constantly being complimented (that is, bombarding love), they won’t take no for an answer, or they are jealous of other people you hang out with. Red flags can be a variety of words and actions, not just physical violence.
Teen dating violence happens everywhere. According to DoSomething.org, one in three teenagers will experience some form of dating abuse. There were an estimated 116,000 residents in Lycoming County reported in the most recent census, of which 25,000 are under the age of 19. If one in three teens experiences dating violence, that means approximately 9,000 teens in our region are suffering or are currently suffering at the hands of a partner. This number is too high. But there are ways to prevent dating violence.
Talking to your teenager can be uncomfortable. But knowing the red flags is the first step. The teenager may have something on his mind, but may not know how to approach it. Teens often find it difficult to talk to their parents about certain topics, so often they tell someone else or not at all. Recognizing that dating violence occurs in teens is the first step toward meaningful conversation.
Parents and teachers can watch for signs that a teenage relationship is unhealthy. Some of these signs include: the young adult may begin to act withdrawn, depressed, or anxious. They may start changing their activities, checking in with their partner all the time, becoming overly self-critical or insecure, secretive, or apologizing for their partner’s negative actions. To teachers, this may sound like the onset of dropping grades, withdrawal from sports, or avoidance of peer groups. Prevention education is offered to parents, community groups, students and educators.
Our prevention educator focuses on sharing information in an interactive and easy-to-understand way for any age group. Presently, presentations are done both in person and by video call. The sessions are free and are a great way to start that dreaded but crucial conversation. A list of available courses can be found on the YWCA Northcentral PA website. If you would like to schedule an appointment so that she can speak to your students, call 570-322-4637 ext. 112 or send an email to [email protected]
If you or someone you know has been a victim of teen dating or domestic violence, sexual assault, or other violent crimes, support is available. The YWCA Northcentral PA Wise Options hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-326-8483. All services provided are free and confidential.