Guest Post: Tips and Resources for Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

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Barri Rosenbluth is the founding Director of SafePlace’s Expect Respect Program in Austin, TX. Expect Respect is a comprehensive, dating abuse prevention program that supports vulnerable youth, develops youth leadership, and collaborates with schools and community partners to promote healthy teen relationships. Rosenbluth will be speaking at our National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence next month! 

National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month is in full swing and for many communities that means local proclamations, student assemblies, and youth-led campaigns to raise awareness of this important issue. As a service provider I know how much time and effort goes into even the simplest of these activities. But sharing the workload is just one reason to collaborate. Teaming up with youth and adult partners for National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month is also a great way to generate excitement, inspire creativity, and engage diverse audiences.

How did National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month come to be? In 2005, the importance of addressing teen dating abuse was highlighted in the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The following year, both houses of Congress declared the first full week in February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week. In 2010 the week became a month, expanding opportunities to reach more people in new ways. Over the past five years, it has been exciting to see how organizations and individuals have been leveraging the month to spread awareness about teen dating violence.

Here are some of my suggestions for engaging people with the issue–during National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, and every day of the year:

  1. Host a Kick-Off Event featuring local youth performers.
  2. Invite city/county leaders to issue a proclamation declaring National Teen Dating Violence Awareness in your community.
  3. Keep survivors and their families at the center of your efforts. They need you and you need them.
  4. Engage local youth in creating posters, videos, photographs, and messages to reach their peers in culturally relevant ways.
  5. Coordinate with your school district to provide lesson plans, training, and other resources for teachers.
  6. Encourage faith-based groups and other organizations to host conversations with parents on promoting healthy teen relationships.
  7. Create a “youth issues” committee on your city/county domestic violence task force and conduct a community-wide needs assessment.

Additionally, here are some resources that I highly recommend: