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Local shelters discuss teen dating violence

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on February 17, 2011 with No Comments

February is oftentimes regarded as a month for love, with Valentineís Day taking center stage. However, while some teenagers are thinking about flowers and cards, some teenagers are unfortunately dealing with dating violence that is temporarily masked during Valentineís Day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, about one in four teens report being the victim of verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual violence. Abusive relationships can influence a teenís healthy emotional development in a negative way, making it more likely for them to be involved in violent relationships later in life, according to the CDC.
Lisa Wein is executive director of Haven House Inc., a domestic violence shelter in Hammond. She agrees that being involved in abusive relationships early in life could create a pattern, and urges people to become more knowledgeable about the subject.
ìOur mission should be to break the cycle of violence, not make it stronger,î Wein said.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama declared February National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. In his proclamation, Obama mentioned that dealing with teen dating violence must address the social realities of adolescent life in a digital world, mentioning that technologies such as cell phones, texting, e-mail and social networking sites are an integral part of teenagersí lives.
Loveisrespect.org, a Web site from the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline that provides resources about dating violence to teens and parents, recently posted a video on how to recognize the warning signs of digital dating abuse.
The video states that constant texting, calling or e-mailing to ìcheck upî on a significant other is considered a warning sign, as well as sharing or threatening to share inappropriate photos via texting or social media sites.
With an increase of digital use in teens, it is not surprising that 24 percent of teens have been victimized by the use of technology from a significant other, as was discovered in a 2009 survey from Liz Claiborne Inc. and Family Violence Prevention Fund.
Educating both teenagers and parents about the dangers of dating violence is a mission of Haven House, according to Wein. She said that recent ìsextingî and child pornography cases have brought media attention about digital abuse to light for some, but not all abuse is as obvious.
ìSometimes parents pay very little attention to constant e-mailing or texting because itís simply not as easily observed. Itís not as dramatic as seeing photos of nude children, but it can be just as harmful,î she said.
Wein urges parents to educate their children and teens about the dangers of dating violence by discussing the subject and answering questions openly and honestly.
ìLetís face it, sometimes kids take advantage of the fact that their parents may not be as ëtech savvy,í but parents donít really have to be in order to have a frank discussion and let them know they care,î Wein said.
The Dating Violence Prevention Center, however, has used societyís connection to technology to launch a new campaign called ìMy Boyfriend Rocks,î in an effort to educate young women about the characteristics of a healthy relationship.
The campaign, which kicked off on Valentineís Day at www.myboyfriendrocks.com, spreads the message of, ìA rockiní boyfriend resolves conflict without violence.î This site connects with teens through Facebook and Twitter, using technology to send its message, which appeals to a younger generation.
Joy Heminger, director of community affairs from St. Judeís House domestic violence shelter in Crown Point, is another local advocate for educating teens about the dangers of relationship abuse.
Heminger mentioned that discussing relationship abuse with teens is needed not only at home, but also at school where abuse can be prevalent through bullying.
ì[Abuse] doesnít have to be physical; it can be emotional as well. No matter what the medium, itís important to send out good messages about how to prevent abuse,î she said.
If you or someone you know is dealing with relationship abuse, contact Haven House Inc. at 800-526-7157, or call St. Judeís House at 219-662-7066.

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