“The most important part of what we do as youth representatives and why I got into it was to stop the normalization of unhealthy relationships and make people more aware of how to have a healthy relationship and what healthy relationships look like… I think that’s an important thing for everyone to know, especially in high school.”- Zoe, Youth Representative from Boise High School.
Why does Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month matter? We know that one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner (loveisrespect.org). One in three. We all probably know three young people in our lives. This is a national, state-wide, and local problem that exists across the country and in every community. Luckily, we have young people who are passionate about educating their peers and their communities about teen dating violence and abuse.
The WCA’s Youth REPs are a group of high school students from across the Treasure Valley who want to use their voices to make a change in that statistic. As a group, their goal is to empower other young people to build healthy relationships, raise awareness about dating violence, and educate their peers on the signs of abuse.
This year, they have been busy planning awareness and outreach events at each of their respective schools. Boise High School students created a poster campaign and are doing outreach during their lunchtime to reach out to their schoolmates about teen dating abuse. Timberline High school students are doing a “Wear Orange 4 Love” day to raise awareness for the month. Capital High School students are outreach tabling during lunch and creating a video announcement that the whole school will see. Union High School students are doing a whole awareness week that will include classroom presentations, “Wear Orange 4 Love” day, and an outreach table with resources and swag. These students are a testimony of how education can be the first step to ending teen dating violence. We are incredibly proud of all of the hard work and effort that the students have put into their events.
However, dating violence is a community wide issue. What can we do as adults, friends, parents, teachers, coaches, and other supporters of teens? We can start the conversation about what healthy relationships look like, feel like, and sound like. This can include how to have strong communication, how to set boundaries, and practice trust, honesty, respect, and equality. We can be role models for teens and practice these skills ourselves and talk to teens about these qualities we want in our relationships. Together as a community, we can end teen dating violence.
Contact the Tracy Darling-DeMarcus for more information.
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