As the month of February has come and gone and we have celebrated Valentine’s Day, Black History Month, and Presidents Day, did anybody take notice that it was Teen Dating Violence Awareness month also?
Findings report that about one in five female high school students experience physical and/or sexual abuse by an intimate partner. Compared to adult counterparts, teenagers are at higher risk of intimate partner abuse. Furthermore, adolescents who are subjected to intimate partner violence are also at increased risk of engaging in destructive behaviors, such as substance use, sexual risk behaviors, and suicide.
Teen dating violence is an ever-increasing problem. There is a need to make dating violence awareness programs mandatory in public schools. A mandatory implementation of a timely and appropriate teen dating violence education program delivered on a regular basis to all students from age 11 to 19 could teach them how to (a) recognize unhealthy relationships and (b) form healthy ones. Therefore, this training could impact their future intimate relationships during adulthood in a positive and constructive manner. Intimate partner violence is further perpetuated by the media, for example in popular reality shows, such as “Jersey Shore” and other related television shows.
Mandatory education on healthy relationships and intimate partner violence seem indicated so as to counteract the misleading messages of the media. Any negligence in addressing and/or redressing this perpetuation of intimate partner abuse would fail to protect our youth and society as a whole. It is incumbent on each individual to demand that law makers and politicians to create and pass a bill that mandates the implementation of an appropriate teen dating violence education program as part of the curriculum in public schools nationwide.
Please support mandatory healthy relationships/teen dating violence education programs in public schools now.
Derek Baldridge, Dahiana Guadarrama, Tiease Lee, Wesley Norvell, and Sara Tousi, California State University, Long Beach masters of social work students.