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Teen dating violence awareness

Dyess Air Force Base, Texas --

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month that began in 2004 to encourage parents and adolescents to talk about relationships and how to be safe.

This awareness campaign aims to break the cycle of violence by providing support and services to victims, their families and their communities.

“Adolescents in abusive relationships often carry these unhealthy patterns of violence into future relationships,” said Dennis Wright, 7th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron family advocacy intervention specialist. “Children who are victimized or witness violence frequently bring this experience with them to the playground, the classroom, into teen relationships, and ultimately, they can end up the victims and perpetrators of adult partner violence.”

Some warning signs parental figures may see in teens who are affected by teen violence are isolation from friends, having to account to boyfriend/girlfriend for time spent away from them, school grades dropping or not participating in school events that they normally would enjoy. There are also possible early signs of depression, anxiety, not eating or poor sleep.

“Parents and caregivers can model and instill values that promote healthy dating relationships as well as observe signs of dating abuse or perpetration, and seek appropriate help for their children,” Wright said. “Parents need to understand that their teens face many more challenges today than teens may have years ago.
“Understanding those challenges can help parents recognize what their children are facing and how they can intervene to help protect their children,” Wright added.

According to the youth.gov website, 12 to 19 year olds experience the highest rates of sexual assault. Studies show that approximately 10 percent of adolescents report being the victim of physical violence at the hands of their intimate partner during their time together.

Dyess Air Force Base will host multiple events throughout the month of February to raise awareness for teen dating violence.

February 12 – The Family Advocacy will provide a one hour group discussion that focuses on the issues teens face when dating at the Youth Center at 4:30 p.m.

February 25 – There will be a 90 minute group discussion for parents of teens from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hangar Center. This will provide parents with information on what resources are available to help their children be informed.
It’s not just in-person violence that occurs in today’s society, the advancement in social media technology increases the avenues people can use to potentially harm others.

“The number of teens being abused in some form has more than tripled with the increase of social networks for teens to connect with others,” Wright said. “Teens need to be aware of the extremes in which cyber predators will go to reach out to vulnerable teens who are using social media for dating purposes or are using the internet looking for emotional support and friendship.”

There are more than 50 organizations available to support teens on the national level.

Some of the resources that are accessible in Abilene through local agencies. Some of the agencies available for people are: Baptist Child and Family Services Health and Human Services, Pathway Youth and Families, Noah Project and Family Advocacy at Dyess Air Force Base.