Now in its fifth year, Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM) provides us with another great opportunity to raise awareness and education about an important issue affecting teenagers across New York State and the nation. This month is an important time to talk about healthy and unhealthy relationships, warning signs, and what we can do to prevent dating abuse from happening in the first place with innovative prevention strategies.
With more than 1 in 3 female adolescents and 1 in 4 male adolescents experiencing abuse in a relationship and with teens engaging in coercive and abusive relationships at higher rates than ever before, we are confronted with not only a state wide issue, but a national epidemic.
As adults, it is our responsibility to provide leadership and guidance for adolescents in our communities and in our sphere of influence, and perhaps more importantly, take leadership and guidance from adolescents themselves to understand the challenges that today's teens face. As a community, we must provide safe, open and nurturing environments to give those teens that may need assistance, the ability to speak up. If we can educate our youth in the early stages of development about healthy and respectful relationships, perhaps that may make a difference later in their lives.
TIPS TO MAKE THE MOST OF TEEN DATING VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH
Some ideas for activities this month:
"It's Time to Talk Day" on February 3rd. This is a great way to get everyone in the community talking about dating violence and how to have healthy relationships with lots of ideas and strategies to support the effort. Visit the It's Time to Talk Day website for ideas and strategies to support the campaign.
Valentines' Day poses a rare opportunity to connect to an international campaign, One Billion Rising, on February 14th. To learn more about connecting to an event near you and to download a tool kit, visit the One Billion Rising website.
Hold a Flash Mob - Get a dance studio involved to choreograph and "train" community members (include teens and adults). Have talking points ready for all the media attention you will receive.
Post "28 Facts About TDV." Use your website or other social media to post 28 Facts about TDV throughout the month - one fact per day.
Encourage youth activism! Support students and young people to create a school-wide or community campaign on their own.
Have a poster or slogan contest! Ask teens to create a TDV app. Invite students to submit poetry, plays, songs, or artwork. Give the winner a prize that benefits their school, like software, an iPad or other equipment. Honor winners at an event.
Engage school personnel: coaches, counselors, teachers and administrators need to have their awareness raised, too.
Engage parents and other adult influences: send home brochures, flyers, post information on the school district website with links to helpful resources. Show a film. Invite parents to a "How to Talk to your Teen about Dating" workshop. Hold it at various dates and times throughout the month to ensure that parents can attend. Consider inviting parents and their teens together. Give teens talking points to talk to their parents, as well.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
You can use the #NYTDVAM tag on your social media posts to highlight all of the great working going on in your program! And stay tuned in to our Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the month. We will be posting tips, resources and stats, and highlighting all of the great work that's being done across the state and nation to prevent teen dating violence.
Here is a list of just a few of the tools, resources and campaigns NYSCADV encourages programs to look to for guidance on engaging teens and the adults who have influence in their lives:
The NYSCADV Prevention Project Toolkit contains exercises, activities, primers, information and resources designed to help individuals and groups think about what would prevent domestic violence from happening in their communities. Tools and resources are chosen carefully, based on lessons learned and successes from local domestic violence programs throughout the state. Tools and techniques promoted in the toolkit support groups and individuals to go through their own process of discovery and decision-making to determine the role they wish to play in changing their communities.
OPDV - ICanDoSomethingNY
The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) has developed a new campaign, #ICanDoSomethingNY, featuring a 3-minute video in which teens describe some common behaviors that could be abusive. The young actors then present activities teens could organize in their schools and communities during February, or even all year long. Use this along with the Resource Card which can be printed and hung in the classroom all year long! They will also be following the hashtags #ICanDoSomethingNY, #tdvcandyhearts, #orange4love, and #DontDoNothing, and will highlight what teens are doing on the OPDV Facebook page.
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is an excellent time to speak with schools about implementing a school wide policy on teen dating violence. This comprehensive template from Start Strong may fit the bill. Start Strong also has great ideas and resources for engaging parents and other adult influences.
Center for Healthy Teen Relationships
The Center for Healthy Teen Relationships is a new and innovative campaign from the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence that engages youth and focuses on gender equity. The Center promotes healthy relationship skills as a way to prevent adolescent relationship abuse and sexual assault by engaging and educating young people, parents/caregivers, and adult influences, promoting positive social norms, and policy to create sustainability.
Stand 4 Respect
The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence has created some great tools in collaboration with the ICADV Youth Council. The Stand 4 Respect campaign is youth informed and supports adults to talk with young people about relationships and encourages other teens to take action. It also voices teens' points of view to adults who can make changes that impact teens.
This searchable collection of resources generated in the field includes training tools, campaigns, promising programs, evidence, policies, and other materials that can be adapted in your community to advance the prevention of intimate partner violence.