As Valentine’s Day looms on the horizon, love is on many people’s minds throughout the month of February. It’s hard not to see the world through rose colored glasses at this time of year, but it’s also important to remember that not all romances are positive ones. Teens, especially, can be vulnerable to unhealthy dating relationships, which is why National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month is also recognized in February.
A National Crisis
Teen dating violence is a major problem across the United States and, unfortunately, Indiana is not immune. In fact, nearly 1 in 10 Indiana high school students experienced physical violence in their dating relationships in the past year. One national survey found that Indiana ranks third highest in the percentage of high school students who reported sexual dating violence.
Whether physical, sexual, or emotional, dating violence can have a lasting impact. Teens who experience relationship violence are more likely to struggle in school, develop depression, and turn to drugs or alcohol. They’re also at a significantly greater risk of experiencing abuse in adult relationships, potentially repeating the abuse cycle for a lifetime.
Start the Conversation
The statistics may seem bleak, but we CAN do something about it. One of the best ways to end teen dating violence before it starts is to talk about it. At LifeSmart Youth, we help start the conversation among pre-teens, teenagers, parents, teachers, and communities. When they know what healthy relationship skills look like, teens (and adults) are much more equipped to develop them—education is the best form of prevention when it comes to dating violence.
LifeSmart Youth’s professional Health Educators provide healthy relationship education to middle school students through its CARE™ (Communicating with And Respecting Each other) program which specifically addresses consent, healthy relationship characteristics, and dating violence prevention. In CARE, teens learn essential interpersonal communication skills, including verbal and nonverbal communication, which are so important in this hi-tech age of cell phones and other digital devices. All class discussions are offered in a safe, nonjudgmental, co-ed environment, where students are respected and encouraged to ask questions freely.
To launch Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, LifeSmart Youth CEO Tonja Eagan will appear on the monthly segment Kids First on FOX 59 TV to discuss healthy relationships and how to prevent teen dating violence. She will be joined by Camishe Nunley, a prominent licensed mental health counselor and certified trauma specialist. The segment will air Monday, February 3. Click here to view the Kids First segments.
*If you know of a teen or adult who could benefit from speaking to a caring, well-trained advocate, please connect them with the National Dating Abuse Helpline, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, at 1-866-331-9474 (TTY: 1-866-331-8453), by texting “loveis” to 77054, or through live chat at loveisrespect.org.
Call To Action
Follow LifeSmart Youth on Facebook @LifeSmartYouth to see how we’re participating in Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month this February and visit lifesmartyouth.org to learn more about our CARE™ program and healthy relationships. The Board of Directors is seeking diverse candidates with marketing, sales, and/or finance expertise.
About LifeSmart Youth
LifeSmart Youth™ guides Indiana youth to lead healthy and safe lives. In partnership with schools and camps, our Health Educators teach youth valuable whole-life skills to develop healthy peer and teen dating relationships and understand their growing bodies and reproductive health. We believe the world needs kids who aren’t just book smart or street smart, but life smart. Learn more at lifesmartyouth.org.