Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month 2020
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates for other types of youth violence, according to loveisrespect.org. In addition, 1 in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped, or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Most violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18. Violence experienced at this age has long lasting effects. Victims are at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence. Half of youth who have been victims of both dating violence and rape attempt suicide. Getting teens engaged in preventing dating violence is key to preventing domestic violence in adulthood.
This year Peace House’s student club, End Violence Now (EVN), created a public service announcement with KPCW which ran for the first two weeks of February. This announcement brought awareness to the topic of dating violence and offered resources. EVN also posted teen dating factoids throughout the Park City High School and hung tear-off flyers which have the Peace House Help Line on it in every bathroom stall. The Winter Dance falls in February, so students felt that this was a good time to post these flyers.
Our teens also participated in a dating simulation called In Their Shoes: Teens and Dating Violence Classroom Edition. This is a scenario-based training designed to help youth talk about what dating is like for today’s teens—from their perspective. Every simulation is based on a real experience that teens have had. Participants become these teen characters, make choices about their relationships, and see what happens. In Their Shoes provides a snapshot of unhealthy teen relationships and generates a thoughtful discussion about what abusive relationships look like and how to support those experiencing them.
For adults in the community, the Summit County Domestic Violence Coalition hosted Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council presentation on dating and peer mentoring at the February monthly meeting at Blair Education Center. 12 community members attended and two youth.
On Wednesday, February 12, EVN and Planned Parenthood’s club, Teen Council, collaborated to put on a one-night dating conference at the Peace House Community Room. Park City High School’s Gay Straight Alliance and Student Council as well as EVN and Teen Council attended. In all, there were 28 teen participants and 12 adults supporting the evening.
(Planned Parenthood Community Educator Medalid DelCarpio)
Teen Council began the evening running a Dating Decisions activity. This was followed by a presentation by Casey Baird who lost his daughter to dating violence. A documentary on the case can be seen on Investigation Discovery Channel: Web of Lies Series Episode Fatal Façade which aired in September 2019.
Baird is committed to his work with Break the Silence, a domestic violence organization that “provides community resources and services to victims, families and survivors affected by domestic violence.”
(Karen Hammerman, The Trevor Project)
Karen Hammerman spoke to the group about the Trevor Project, a national mental health organization working to end suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among youth as young as 10 to age 24. LGBTQ+ youth are also more likely to experience dating violence. The Trevor Project provides: TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, TrevorChat, TrevorSpace, TrevorSupport and other resources.
Encircle Operational Assistant Lakshan Lingam presented on the services available at Encircle Homes in Salt Lake City, Provo and soon St. George. Encircle Homes provide therapy to LGBTQ+ youth and young adults as well as social connection, emotional and psychological skills, art series, writing, community activities, educational resources for youth, their families, and community members who want to support.