MURFREESBORO – February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and the Child Advocacy Center wants you to, “Talk About It!” with your teens. Prevention starts with understanding the signs, symptoms, and causes of teen dating violence and what you can do to help.
Here is a list of common signals:
- Physical violence - a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.
- Sexual violence - forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act and or sexual touching when the partner does not or cannot consent. It also includes non-physical sexual behaviors like posting or sharing sexual pictures of a partner without their consent or sexting someone without their consent.
- Psychological aggression - the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm a partner mentally or emotionally and/or exert control over a partner.
- Stalking - a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.
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The 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of high school students in Tennessee conducted by the Center for Disease Control reported that about 1 in 11 female and 1 in 14 male high school students have experienced physical dating violence in the last year, and about 1 in 8 female and 1 in 26 male high school students have experienced sexual dating violence in the last year. The survey also found that 25% of women and 15% of men who encounter dating violence in their lives will have their first experience before they turn 18.
If left unaddressed, teen dating violence can lead teens to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression, begin using substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, experience thoughts of suicide, and create problems in future relationships. Call the Child Advocacy Center at 615-867-9000 for a list of national and local resources to make starting and continuing the conversation easier for both parents and teens.
Every year, love is respect educates communities on the signs, symptoms, and effects that dating violence can have on teenagers. “Talk About It!” is love is respect’s call to action for young people and those who support them to engage in meaningful conversations about healthy relationships and navigate what may be unhealthy or abusive. Their website, loveisrespect.org, offers 24/7 information, support, and advocacy to people ages 13 to 26 who might have questions or concerns about their relationships. There are also resources for parents and guides on how to let teens know they are not alone and that they can seek help when they feel like they are in an unhealthy relationship.
The Child Advocacy Center works as a multi-disciplinary team with the Department of Children’s Services, law enforcement, and the District Attorney’s Office to respond to child abuse cases, investigate the crime, aggressively prosecute offenders, help children heal from the trauma, and help families rebuild their shattered lives.
The Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford County offers Darkness to Light child sexual abuse prevention program to members of our community. To learn how you can help to protect children, contact Carrie Norvell at 615-867-900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on teen dating violence, visit https://www.loveisrespect.org/talk-about-it/ or https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/teendatingviolence/fastfact.