Friday, February 27, 2015

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Activities Work to Break the Cycle of Violence

By Lindsay Sweetnam, Program Director, La Casa de las Madres

Over 38 years ago, in 1976, a dynamic coalition of Bay Area women gathered to found La Casa de las Madres, California’s first and the nation’s second shelter dedicated to women and children escaping domestic violence.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), when our Teen Program ramps up its year-round efforts and implements special programming to educate Bay Area youth about dating violence and the services available to those affected by it. Through activities at high schools and various community locations, public service announcements over the airwaves, social media, and more, La Casa is raising its voice: to empower youth to recognize abuse, to demand healthy relationships for themselves and their peers, and to reach out for help if it is needed.

One in 10 San Francisco teens who are dating revealed experiencing physical violence at the hands of a partner over the previous 12 months. About one in three American youth between the ages of 14 and 20 say they have been a victim of physical, sexual, or emotional/psychological violence within a dating relationship, and nearly one in three acknowledge that they have committed violence toward a dating partner.

For the third year in a row, teens and community members of all ages will hear public service announcements about teen dating violence. The campaign encourages teens to call La Casa’s Teen Crisis Line if they or someone they know is being hurt, emotionally or physically. To date more than 35,000 youth have been reached by “Girls Got Each Others’ Backs!” in the 13 years of this campaign.

In partnership with the Wellness Centers in San Francisco’s public high schools, La Casa is also presenting Domestic Violence 101 workshops for teens which include warning signs, qualities of healthy relationships, and the supports available to those who need them. These workshops and resource tablings are also reaching youth through events at various community organizations throughout the month, and beyond.

La Casa serves as an essential safety net for local women, teens, and children: a refuge, an advocate, a strong voice against domestic violence. Let’s keep working together to have #MoreAwareness and #LessAbuse.