The next time you notice a group of teenage girls at the mall or at a high school event, think about this alarming fact: one out of every three or four who is involved in a dating relationship fears for her personal safety in that relationship. When you see groups of teensâ??boys or girlsâ??it might surprise you to learn that recent national statistics cite that fifty percent of teens in a serious relationship have compromised their beliefs to please their dating partner. And, back to the girlsâ??just under 30 percent of teenage girls in any dating relationship reported feeling pressure to engage in sex that they did not want. Most parents donâ??t know this. Many believe this could never happen to their child. But emotional and physical abuse occur in dating relationships every day, in every Idaho community. Our children are hitting, slapping or pushing each other in one of every five serious dating relationships. Both perpetration and acceptance of teen dating violence are precursors to the same behavior as
adults: domestic violence. Efforts to raise public awareness about this issue have increased over the past seven years.
- Dating violence is now part of domestic violence under federal law.
- In 2004, teenagers from across the nation came together to take a stand against teen dating violence. With sponsorship by the American Bar Association, the Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Initiative was launched.
- In 2005, leaders in the Idaho domestic violence prevention advocacy community held a statewide convention on teen dating violence. Public service announcements produced by Eagle High School students for this event went on to win a national Emmy award in 2006. They have subsequently been aired around the nation and can be viewed on my website.
- The American Bar Association sent toolkits for schools to every state and territory last year.
- The call to end teen dating violence was formally recognized in February 2006 when both Houses of Congress declared the first week in February â??National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.â?? A number of governors called for statewide recognition of the week in 2006, and dozens of local, state and national organizations were also involved.
- In 2005 and 2006, Liz Claiborne, Inc., introduced a teen dating violence awareness and prevention curriculum to high schools in many states.
- The Department of Defense sent teen dating violence prevention materials to military installations worldwide last spring.
This year, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives have again declared the first full week of February â??National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.â?? Both Houses of Congress are calling upon government representatives and agencies, private organizations and public officials to promote activities in their respective communities that raise awareness of teen dating violence and promote prevention strategies. On January 17, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Patty Murray and I sent a letter to each Governor and the Mayor of Washington, D.C., asking for support of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week, February 5 â?? 9, 2007. To date, over 50 national, state and local organizations are partners in this yearâ??s initiative. Parents, teens, teachers, school officials, community leaders and law enforcement must work together to raise awareness about this oft-hidden tragedy. Our teens today will be parents tomorrow. They must understand
what constitutes healthy relationships. Family violence is a cycle; children certainly learn what they live. Letâ??s stop the cycle of interpersonal violence today, before destructive attitudes and behavior engulf yet another generation of Americans.