By Senator Mike Crapo
Over the past eight years, I've made the crime of teen dating violence a legislative and public awareness priority. Today, dating violence is a definition of domestic violence under federal law, which allows organizations and agencies to use federal dollars to help victims of dating violence. This year marks the third year that the Senate has unanimously agreed to my resolution declaring the first full week in February "National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week." A number of organizations in Idaho will be coordinating activities recognizing the week again this year, and you can check my website for updates.
Awareness of the prevalence of teen dating violence has increased over the past few years, thanks to the hard work of many people at the federal, state and local levels across Idaho and the nation. Even so, dating violence, including harassment, persists in dating relationships of our teens today.
According to nationwide surveys of teens conducted in 2006 and 2007
• One in three female teens in a dating relationship reports having feared for her safety;
• 30 percent of teens in a dating relationship have been text-messaged 10, 20 or 30 times an hour by a partner finding out where they are, what they are doing or who they are with;
• O ne in five teens in a serious relationship says that they have been hit, slapped or pushed by a partner;
• One in four girls in a relationship felt pressured to go further sexually than she wanted.
Clearly, the crime of teen dating violence and abuse, including physical, emotional and sexual assault, and harassment via texting, email or Instant Messaging is a cruel reality for many teenagers. Like drug abuse, it's a reality that many parents remain unaware of.
The Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Initiative was spearheaded by teenagers nationwide who chose to take a stand against teen dating violence. Initiated in 2004 by the American Bar Association and now supported by dozens of national, state and local organizations, the call to end teen dating violence was formally recognized in 2006 and 2007 when both Houses of Congress declared the first week in February "National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week." In December, the Senate joined me and my colleagues, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Joe Biden (D-DE), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jack Reed (D-RI), Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in unanimously approving S.Res.388, declaring February 4 - 8, 2008, "National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week."
For the past two years, a number of governors have supported recognition of the week, joining with organizations in their states to raise awareness of teen dating violence. This past year, the National Teen Dating Violence Hotline was established.
As Valentine's Day approaches, take time to learn the signs of teen dating violence. If you or a friend is in a troubling or dangerous dating relationship, seek out help. If you are a parent of a teen and if you think your child is involved in a dangerous dating relationship, find help for them. We parents also have a responsibility to provide good examples of healthy relationships to our children. Often, children mimic behavior they learn at home, including interpersonal relationships.
There are many resources available and my website has a list of organizations and agencies that are here to help: http://crapo.senate.gov . I applaud the diligence and commitment of the many Idaho teens, agencies and organizations working to raise awareness and promote prevention of teen dating violence. If you have any particular concerns or questions, please contact any of my offices.
WORD COUNT: 598