The statistics about teen dating violence are alarming: In the United States, 1 in 3 teens are the victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
And yet our society has a long way to go when it comes to educating teens about what is acceptable in a romantic relationship. For example, a 2009 survey of Boston teens found that half of respondents blamed Rihanna for Chris Brown’s attack on her. And it wasn’t until 2010 that that February was named National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.
We want to encourage girls to educate themselves and their peers — both male and female — about respectful relationships and how to recognize and stop dating abuse. That’s why we made this our cause of the month. Here are five ways you can help raise awareness (including how to educate yourself):
ONE: Take the pledge: DoSomething.org has a great online pledge that spells out what it means to be in a healthy relationship. One of our favorite promises: “To have friends and activities apart from my boyfriend or girlfriend.” This is really important! Do you know that 1 in 3 teens in a relationship report being texted up to 30 times an hour by their dating partner wanting to know where they are?
TWO: Make a statement: You can wear your heart on your sleeve (literally) by creating your own hearts or order the official stickers through the Let Your Heart Rule Campaign. You can also make 1 in 3 dating abuse bracelets to let your friends know the facts about dating abuse.
THREE: Write it down: Petition leaders in the community to honor Teen DV Awareness Month with you (download templates from the official website here). Or submit an essay to your local paper. For more on how to write an Op Ed, read our article here.
FOUR: Get social: Post messages or the Teen Dating Violence Month poster on your Facebook page, Tumbler account, Pinterest, blog, or where ever else you have an online presence. Or, on Valentine’s Day, text both your friends with tips for maintaining a loving relationship (and how to get help when they need it!). You may want to include the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline number: 1-866-331-9474.
FIVE: Be a volunteer: Loveisrepsect.org will train teens in the Austin, Texas area to be peer-to-peer advocates. You can also look for opportunities closer to home, like becoming a peer counselor at your school or church.
Keep this list going! What are your ideas for building healthy relationships?
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