February is Teen Dating Violence Action Month
Last year, on January 28th, 2019, Mayor David Condon and the Spokane City Council gave a proclamation to end teen dating violence and recognized February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Nationally identified as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, February is host to an annual campaign aiming to generate conversations about healthy relationships with the intent of preventing dating violence and abuse among teenagers and youth.
This February, we at YWCA Spokane, hope you will join us in both raising awareness around the realities of abuse within relationships among teenagers and youth, as well as taking action to interrupt the cycle of violence by supporting teenagers and youth who are or have been affected by relationship violence.
Facts About Teen Dating Violence
We know that dating abuse among teens and youth is far too common, affecting 1 in 3 adolescents. Dating abuse comes in many forms, all of them serious, and none of them deserved.
It is also important to note that anyone can experience or cause abuse. Intimate partner domestic violence, dating or relationship abuse, impacts people of every gender, race, socioeconomic status, ability level, age, and experience.
Learn more about the various types of abusive relationships, identify warning signs of unhealthy and abusive relationships, and explore your conceptualization of healthy relationships by utilizing YWCA’s Power and Control Wheel and Healthy Relationship Wheel.
Why Aren’t We Talking About This More?
Given the prevalence of teen dating violence, you may wonder why it is not a more common topic of conversation within our friend groups, families, and communities.
Culturally, we tend to shy aware from difficult topics of conversation for fear of hurting or making someone uncomfortable. While not necessarily ill-intentioned, this lack of conversation may be further contributing to the problem. Avoiding difficult topics of conversation, such as teen dating abuse, not only reduces awareness of critical issues affecting our communities, but can also make it harder for individuals to identify, name, and work to overcome challenges, such as teen dating abuse, when they personally experience them.
We see these effects in outcomes among both parents and teenagers. Over 80% of parents either believed teen dating violence was not an issue or admitted not knowing if it was an issue, and only 33% of the teens who have been in abusive relationships have ever told anyone about the abusive relationship. We can disrupt this harmful disconnection right now by having conversations about how to recognize and respond to healthy and unhealthy relationship dynamics at all ages.
Our Work At YWCA Spokane and What You Can Do To Help
At YWCA Spokane, year-round, we provide services for children and youth to both prevent dating abuse, as well as support those who have experienced and/or witnessed dating abuse.
Our Youth Advocate, Jessi Taylor, also facilitates bi-monthly meetings through our new Youth Leadership Council, providing opportunities for local teens to impact change in their own communities.
For Teen Dating Violence Action Month, our staff will be participating in a few special national activities, listed below. We encourage you to join us!
Open Honest Conversations
One of the most important actions each of us can take right now is to have open, honest discussions with the youth in our lives about what is healthy and what is not.
Beyond conversation, the modeling of healthy boundaries, trust, respect, and consent within relationships is extremely impactful. These concepts begin to develop in early childhood and are built upon across the lifespan. No matter where the youth in your life are currently at, you can work with them to cultivate a more healthy understanding of relationships, and ultimately move toward a more healthy, happy way of life.
Please consider taking the time to learn more about teen dating violence by visiting the following resources:
- Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- How to Help a Friend Guide
- CDC Guide to Preventing Teen Dating Violence
- Guide to Helping School-Age Kids Navigate Healthy Friendships
Contact YWCA Spokane
If you would like to talk with YWCA Spokane about a youth in your life who may be experiencing dating violence, relationship abuse, or trauma related to witnessing domestic violence, please contact Jessi at email@example.com.
Youth are also welcome to contact Jessi directly who would like a safe person to talk to or who are interested in learning about joining our Youth Leadership Council.