Stop the Scourge of Teen Dating Violence! - Honoring Teen Dating Violence and Prevention Awareness M
Amanda Bach, a 19-year old young lady filled with life and energy, was shot and killed by Dustin McGowan, an ex-boyfriend. McGowan was sentenced to 60-years in prison, but his punishment can’t bring Amanda back to life.
*Sandra Bach, Amanda’s mother, spoke to more than 100 Illinois students gathered at a conference to prevent teen dating violence. One key message she shared was,
“If Amanda were here, she would probably say trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t,.. Never meet with an ex and if you do, do so in a public place.”
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
Looking back to February 2008, National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week was set as the first week in February. In 2010, the U.S. Congress declared the month of February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.
What Behaviors Constitute Teen Dating Violence?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), teen dating violence can be physical, emotional, sexual, or stalking. Violence can occur in person or electronically through texting, social media, and other online applications.
In the close knit and real-time social media interactions of today, cyberbullying, revenge porn, and outright lies by classmates and former dating partners have led to some teens experiencing serious emotional trauma, and - sadly - taking their own lives.
How Widespread is Teen Dating Violence?
Consider these research findings:
**According to the Domestic Violence Awareness Project, in the United States about 1.5 million high school teens experience physical assault from a dating partner.
In the CDC, “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance” report released on June 15, 2018, researchers found eight percent of high school students reported physical violence and seven percent reported sexual violence from a dating partner in the 12 months prior to completing the survey,
Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Teens who are victims in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college and throughout their lifetimes.
How Can We Stop Teen Dating Violence?
As a parent or authority figure in a teen’s life, talk to and share information with your teen about how prevalent dating violence is.
Ensure your teen understands the risks and has a plan for responding if they find themselves in a dangerous situation.
If your teen is old enough to date, they're old enough for a cellphone. Ensure that phone is used to call and text you and other trusted people with periodic updates about who the teen is with and where they are.
Ensure the teen knows how to call police using the cellphone.
When your teen is out with other people, have your teen let those people know their names and identification information have been shared with you and other trusted family members. Why? So anyone with the teen inclined to commit violence knows they'll be identified immediately.
Know who the teen is talking / interacting with on social media and the circumstances of those relationships.
Be a non-judgmental listener! Ask your teen to share stories of friends who have or are dealing with dating violence. Why? Because it helps keep your teen aware dating violence is a real life possibility.
Dating Violence Prevention Resources
For conversation starters and prevention resources, visit:
A great resource for you or your teen to talk with caring, knowledgeable advocates is the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline. Conversations can happen by phone, text, or live chat.
Their website is https://youth.gov/federal-links/national-teen-dating-abuse-helpline, and the phone number is 1-866-331-9474.
Are You a Dating Violence Survivor?
I recently worked with a client who experienced teen dating violence more than 50 years ago. As illustrated by my client, effects of these experiences can last for decades.
What can you do if you experience negative emotions associated with an incident? Consider seeking professional help. You can also apply the self-care tools you’ll find on our FREA website at https://www.FREA.support.
Finally, recall the guidance shared by Amanda Bach’s mother:
“If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t”
As a parent or a teen, please always tune into and listen to your intuition. It can literally save your life.
Stephen Carter is a former Chief of Police, Corporate Security Director and safely leader for one of the world's largest financial services companies. He is now the CEO of Stress Solutions, LLC, a company dedicated to helping people enhance physical and emotional wellbeing through stress mastery using mind-body methods. He is the host of the, "Safe Living Today" and "Mind Over Stress" podcasts.
Sources and Resources:
*“Mother of Portage graduate murdered by ex warns teens about dating violence: 'If it doesn't feel right, it isn’t’”; “Chicago Tribune”, https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/news/ct-ptb-sandy-bach-teens-st-0210-story.html
**“Teen Dating Violence”; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/features/datingviolence/index.html.
Available resources linked from this website include:
CDC’s Teen Dating Violence Webpages
CDC’s Intimate Partner Violence Webpages
Dating Matters®: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships
CDC’s Technical Packages for Violence Prevention
CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System