OSWEGO, NY – February is National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
One in three teens in the US will be a victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner.
In addition, girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, almost triple the national average, according to the Department of Justice.
These violent relationships have serious consequences for victims – putting them at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, suicide and adult re-victimization.
Yet most teens never tell anyone they are in an abusive relationship and most parents cannot identify all the warning signs of an abusive relationship.
In recognition of this important campaign, Oswego County Opportunities’ Services to Aid Families program will be reaching out to students, parents and community members in order to educate individuals about this alarming epidemic.
“Now is the time to educate youth and our community members about the seriousness of teen dating violence and the prevalence of this epidemic in our lives,” said SAF educator/trainer Sara Gozzi. “We will be hosting a number of tabling events at local middle and high schools throughout the month of February. These outreach events will teach students about the disturbing rates of teen dating violence, where to go for help, and warning signs of an abusive relationship. Additionally we will also be partnering with local school districts to show the Lifetime movie ‘Reviving Ophelia.’ This movie will give students an opportunity to see teen dating violence portrayed on the big screen.”
This year, OCO’s SAF program will be a part of a nation-wide movement to celebrate Respect Week, held every year during the week of Valentine’s Day.
During Respect Week, SAF educators will be providing announcements for schools to read daily and post on their video screens.
SAF will also be participating in the annual Wear Orange Day on February 10.
“We are encouraging students, school staff, and community members to wear something orange in support of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. But we want them to do more than just wear orange, we are asking them to take pictures and talk about it. Post pictures of themselves and their friends wearing orange on social media using the hashtags #Orange4Love and #OswegoWearsOrange and post on their social media page ‘I’m wearing orange today because…’ By having a large number of people raising awareness, we send a message that teen dating abuse is not OK,” explained Gozzi.
Additionally, SAF will be hosting parent sessions on February 5 at 11 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. at the Fulton Community School.
During these sessions, parents will have the opportunity to participate in the activity “In Their Shoes” – a scenario based simulation of teen dating violence.
“You can also check us out on Facebook at Services to Aid Families and share our status updates and links to show you support teens and healthy relationships,” added Gozzi.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence or stalking, please call the SAF Crisis Hotline at (315) 342-1600.
The hotline is staffed by trained counselors and is available 24 hours.
SAF is the domestic violence and rape crisis program for Oswego County and has provided crisis, supportive, advocacy and educational services throughout Oswego County for more than 30 years.
OCO, Inc is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966.
A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, OCO provides more than 50 vital services throughout 80 separate locations.
For more information, visit www.oco.org
This project was supported by Grant No. 2010-WR-AX-0016 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice.
The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.