February: Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month in Tahoe Truckee
Special to the Sun
TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; When people think of teenagers a few generic images come to mind. They might think of a group of kids partying around a campfire or just simply being in carefree situations. Most people donand#8217;t associate teenagers with dating violence, but one in three high school seniors have or will be involved in an abusive relationship. The effects are devastating.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month and it is crucial the realities of dating violence are brought to light and arenand#8217;t ignored or brushed under the carpet. Even in our local high schools the statistics are astounding. Eighty-two percent of Truckee High students reported in an anonymous survey they have known someone in an abusive relationship, 16 percent have been in one, leaving only two percent of the population unaffected. In other local schools the statistics are similar: 69 percent of Incline High School students reported knowing a friend or family member who had been in an unhealthy relationship, and at North Tahoe High School, 100 percent of the students surveyed reported knowing at least one victim.
What many people donand#8217;t realize is teen dating violence has different characteristics and manifestations of abuse than adult dating violence. In an adult relationship an abusive partner might use financial leverage as a form of manipulation. A teenager might use Facebook, texting, sexting, peer pressure, or any number of and#8220;socially and age appropriateand#8221; techniques. Teenagers, though strong willed, are heavily influenced and motivated by their peers and the media. This is why using peer pressure and a number of social networking sites or texting can be a powerful tool for an abusive partner.
Teenagers are constantly surrounded by technology including their cell phones and the Internet, making it very easy for their partners to check up on them, sometimes sending up to 30 texts an hour. This recent surge of technological related abuse has led to many new campaigns including the and#8220;Thatand#8217;s Not Cooland#8221; video public service announcements which ask teenagers the question if their relationships are and#8220;caring or controlling?and#8221;
Though technological advances make teen dating violence seem like it is mostly a cyber-related issue, sexual and physical abuse are still prominent. One study found that 38 percent of date rape victims were between the ages of 14 and 17.
This is the second year Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month has been in effect. Before it was only granted the first week of February. Teen Dating Violence education is vital to the health and safety of teenagers everywhere. The more youths who know the difference between healthy relationships and abusive ones the more likely they will make the distinction between the two in their own lives. Visit http://www.tahoewomenservices.org for information and resources.
and#8212; Shanna and Becca are Truckee High School students and members of the Teen Speakerand#8217;s Bureau, a program of Tahoe Womenand#8217;s Services. Local survey results are from anonymous responses during Tahoe Womenand#8217;s Services Prevention Presentations. –