February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and Duncan Mayor Ritchie Dennington made a point to highlight the effort and Safe Center’s team for their work when it comes to raising awareness about the issue.
According to Dennington, one in three adolescents in the United States either already is or will become a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. He said only 33% of teens in abusive relationships tell anyone about the abuse and females between the ages of 16-24 are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence as they experience abuse at a rate almost triple the national average.
“Teen Dating Violence is a serious violation that can affect a young person’s safety, development and sense of comfort,” Dennington said. “Perpetrated by a current or past intimate dating partner, dating violence takes many forms … High school students who experience physical violence in a dating relationship are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, are at a greater risk of suicide and are much more likely to carry patterns of abuse into future relationships.”
Dennington said by providing young people with education about healthy relationships, it’s possible to change attitudes that may support violence and instead use this education to prevent dating violence.
“It is essential to raise community awareness and education so that teachers, school faculty and parents may recognize when youth are exhibiting signs of dating violence,” Dennington said. “The establishment of Teen Dating Violence Awareness month will benefit young people, their families, schools and communities regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity … Everyone has the right to a safe and healthy relationship and to be free from abuse.”
To highlight the importance behind awareness on teen dating violence, Dennington proclaimed February 2020 as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
“I encourage the community to work toward ending teen dating violence by empowering young people to develop healthier relationships, assisting victims in accessing the information and supportive services they need, creating better and more resources for young people in need, instituting effective intervention and prevention policies in schools and engaging in discussions with family members and peers to promote awareness and prevention of the quiet epidemic of teen dating violence.”
The Safe Center hosted a Skate Night targeted at youth on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at Sk8Xpress in Duncan. Safe Center spoke to children in grades four and five and up as well as parents so parents can learn the signs and symptoms of teen dating violence.
Those who couldn't make it to the free skate night are invited to attend another event scheduled for Feb. 22 in Fuqua Park. The third annual "What's love got to do with it?" event is another free, family friendly event which will include food, music, an art contest and information packets. The organization aims to teach those attending about healthy love and encourages those who attend to "chalk about" what love means to them.
The event is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., but in the event of inclement weather, the location will move to the Duncan Moose Lodge at 1712 W. Seminole Rd, Duncan.
For more information, call Safe Center at 580-252-4357.