February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month, and the Center for Healthy Teen Relationships' and Start Strong Idaho's, programs of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence (Idaho Coalition), strategy of promoting healthy teen relationships as a way to reduce teen dating abuse might just be making a difference.
Since 2006, U.S. Senator Mike Crapo has been the sponsor each year of a resolution to recognize the problem of teen dating violence. During that same period, the Idaho Coalition has promoted healthy teen relationships as a way to prevent teen dating abuse through two initiatives--Start Strong Idaho and the Center for Healthy Teen Relationships. Each February, as part of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month, Idaho schools receive posters and other awareness materials on healthy teen relationships. Presentations to youth on what healthy relationships look like, sound like, and feel like are ongoing throughout the school year.
The Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey reports that the number of Idaho high school students who have experienced physical violence by a dating partner has dropped from 13.6% in 2007 to10.6% in 2009 to 8.7% in 2011 (Idaho Department of Education, YRBS 2011).
While there have been decreases in physical abuse, the same survey found 30% of all Idaho high school students have sent or received a nude or semi-nude image of themselves or someone else via email or text during the previous 12 months and 9% have been forced to have sex when they did not want to at least once during their lifetime.
"Studies show that one in five teens say that their friends are victims of dating violence, and nearly half of teens who are in relationships know friends who are verbally abused," said U.S. Senator Mike Crapo. "This week, Senate Resolution 362 was passed by unanimous consent, designating February as a month to focus on preventing teen dating violence and educating communities in ways to stop physical and sexual violence before it begins. The awareness efforts from organizations like the Idaho Coalition aid tremendously in making sure victims know where to turn for help, but it is ultimately the responsibility of all of us to speak up when we see violence and stop it."
"Senator Crapo's national leadership in recognizing February asNational Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month along with the sobering rates of abusive behaviors in teen dating relationships demonstrate the growing understanding that teen dating and sexual abuse are serious issues," said Kelly Miller, Executive Director, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence. "Through the Center for Healthy Teen Relationships and Start Strong Idaho we will continue to engage young people and our statewide partners -- St. Luke's Children's Hospital, the Idaho Department of Education, domestic violence programs and others -- in promoting healthy teen relationships as a way to reduce dating and sexual abuse."
During February, Idaho high school students from across the state are encouraged to participate in the annual Love What's Real Challenge to promote healthy relationships in their schools and communities.
"The Love What's Real Challenge has encouraged me to bring change into my own school, Capital High, and create awareness about teen dating violence," said Khadija Khan, Center for Healthy Teen Relationships student activist. "We've created the Love What's Real Club that meets weekly, and we are especially excited to host a dance at our school in February promoting National Teen Dating Violence and Prevention Month."
For more information about National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month or the Love What's Real Challenge, visit www.lovewhatsreal.com.
For media inquiries and for more information about the efforts led during National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month in Idaho, contact Kelly Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org (208) 384-0419, ext. 306.