GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — February is known to many as the month of love, but it’s also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
As kids grow into adolescence, their curiosity to enter the dating world grows expeditiously.
As tweens cross into the high school world, many are often met with the pressure of wanting to fit in with their peers. Often times, students experience bullying of some sort or enter friendships with toxic traits without realizing it.
As tweens blossom into teenagers, some of the friendships they established will often turn into dating relationships.
The Army Community Service Family Advocacy Program at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria is raising awareness on teen dating violence by visiting with Vilseck High School, Netzaberg Middle School and the teen centers on Tower and Rose Barracks during the month of February, and providing information about teen violence through resource pamphlets and scenario-based events.
“The purpose of the Family Advocacy Program collaborating with the schools and teen centers is to provide the teens with information on healthy relationships and encourage exploration of personal boundaries,” said Denise Link, family advocacy program manager at USAG Bavaria.
The Family Advocacy Program established aged-based scenarios for the teens that involve improper behaviors and crossing certain personal lines to encourage the students to engage in open and honest conversation.
Teen dating violence is more common than many people may think. According to loveisrespect.org, one in three teens in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse by someone they are in a relationship with before they become an adult.
Statistics from teendvmonth.org have shown approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner, and three out of four parents have never talked to their children about domestic violence.
Additionally, in a recent national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 percent of high school students reported physical violence and 7 percent reported that they experienced sexual violence from a dating partner in the 12 months before the survey.
Starting a conversation with a teen about their dating life can be daunting for some parents. However, the No More campaign developed a toolkit titled How to Start a Conversation: Talking about dating and healthy relationships step-by-step to assist parents with this important task.
Every teen will experience love and heartbreak. It’s a part of life. We must all do what we can to ensure they understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, and often times it starts with the ones they see at home.
If you are a victim of teen dating violence or any form of violence, please contact the Military Police at 114.
Department of Defense Education Activity schools in USAG Bavaria also offer psychology and counseling services for school aged children.