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    Teen Violence Dating Awareness and Prevention Month

    by Bonnie Sestito, former Coordinator of Mission with Women and Girls

    When the month of February arrives we immediately think of Valentine’s Day, which is February 14th.  It’s a day set aside to tell our loved ones just how much we care about them by giving them a special card, a box of chocolates, or a bouquet of flowers.  Did you know that February is also “Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month?”  The purpose is to inform teenagers about abusive relationships and how these relationships can affect their emotional and physical self.

    72% 8th and 9th graders are in a dating relationship.  1 in 3 high school relationships involve some sort of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.  Nearly 4 out of 5 girls who have been physically abused continue to date their abuser.  Nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner in the United States each year.  Nearly 2 out of 3 teens in an abusive relationship never tell anyone about the abuse. (Statistics from infographic, http://www.jenniferlewisk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Teen-Dating-Violence-Infographic.pdf, accessed February 5, 2015).
     
    Teen dating violence can be any one, or a combination, of the following:  Physical (This includes pinching, hitting, shoving, or kicking.); Emotional (This involves threatening a partner or harming his or her sense of self-worth. Examples include name calling, controlling/jealous behaviors, consistent monitoring, shaming, bullying (online, texting, and in person), intentionally embarrassing him/her, keeping him/her away from friends and family.); and Sexual (This is defined as forcing a partner to engage in a sex act when he or she does not or cannot consent.)
     
    It can negatively influence the development of healthy sexuality, intimacy, and identity as youth grow into adulthood and can increase the risk of physical injury, poor academic performance, binge drinking, suicide attempts, unhealthy sexual behaviors, substance abuse, negative body image and self-esteem, and violence in future relationships.
     
    Pray for the teens that are caught up in an abusive relationship.  Pray that they realize it is not a healthy relationship…love isn’t suppose to hurt.  Pray for those who are the abuser.  Pray that they get the help they need.
     
    In addition to praying, educate yourself.  Check out the following websites:
    http://www.teendvmonth.org/2015/
    www.loveisrespect.org
    http://www.findyouthinfo.gov/youth-topics/teen-dating-violence
    http://www.nhsnorthstar.com/life/2014/02/13/teen-dating-violence-awareness-month/
     
    Wear orange on February 11th to commemorate Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and tell people why you are wearing orange to promote love, respect and healthy relationships.
     

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