Teen Dating Violence Week

Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA) kicked off National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week at a news conference last month at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in Washington, D.C. Both houses of Congress passed resolutions declaring the Week to be February 6 to February 10 this year. Governors from Arizona, California, Florida and Texas also issued declarations in support of the Week.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, slapped, choked or physically hurt by his or her partner. One in five female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

“I am pleased to be part of this teen-based effort to raise awareness about the crime of teen dating violence,” Senator Crapo said. “The most important and effective way to address this issue is through the teens themselves. Physical and emotional scars, and in the worst cases – death, come about as a result of this violence, which has moved many of us to unite in action. I look forward to contributing to the effort to raise awareness of this crime.”

“The best way we can prevent our children from falling victim to an abusive relationship is through comprehensive education programs,” Representative Millender-McDonald added. “Teenagers need to learn how to avoid the pitfalls of an abusive relationship, and parents, teachers, law enforcement officials and medical professionals need to learn to recognize the warning signs that a teenage girl may be in such a relationship.”

The ABA Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children created a Teen Dating Violence Prevention Toolkit, which includes dating violence prevention tips for teens, parents, teachers, community leaders, and more. “Teen dating violence is a growing problem and a sad reality for many teenagers in America,” said Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Administrator J. Robert Flores. “We are proud to have supported the development of 1,000 toolkits that have been sent to high schools across the nation to help raise awareness about teen dating violence and to prevent further violence from occurring.” More information is available at www.abanet.org/unmet/toolkitmaterials.html

Texas teen Rae Spence shared her experience with a relationship that turned violent. After Spence stopped dating him, Marcus McTear killed his new girlfriend, 15-year-old Ortralla Mosley, in April 2003. Spence went public about her abuse after Mosley’s death, saying, “She was killed not only by her boyfriend, but by the silence of our community.” Spence encouraged teens to speak out and make their voices heard.

Eagle, Idaho teen John Adkins described his involvement in Eagle High School’s broadcasting program. He did most of the editing and sound design for new Teen Dating Violence Awareness Public Service Announcements (PSAs). “Parents, talk to your children about making smart healthy choices and be prepared to stand with them when those choices are difficult,” Adkins said. Senator Crapo featured the PSAs on his Capitol Watch television show and web site, www.crapo.senate.gov

The event opened with a presentation of The Yellow Dress, a dramatic one-woman play based on the stories of young women who were victims of dating violence. It is designed to stimulate discussion about relationships, and can be specified for teenagers or college-age young adults. Co-developed by Sydney Patten and playwright Deborah Lake Fortson, Deana’s Fund developed The Yellow Dress in 1995.

Other speakers included Deborah Price, Department of Education Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools; Wade Horn, Health & Human Services Assistant Secretary for Children and Families; and Pauline Weaver, American Bar Association Board of Governors.

[Browse more features]