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February, a month of romance is typically associated with Valentine’s Day. But for some teens, a dating partner can prove to be abusive rather than affectionate. Some teens become violent or abusive to exert power and control over a dating partner. February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, an opportunity to provide teens, their parents, educators and friends information and resources to recognize and prevent teen dating violence.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV brought awareness to this topic throughout the month of February. The awareness campaign kicked off with a teen safety workshop facilitated by Special Agent John P. Reinosa, RGV Child Exploitation Investigations Task Force ASAC McAllen – Homeland Security Investigations and conclude with a parent workshop on acting against human trafficking facilitated by community advocate, Maria Cansino. In addition, the organization implemented the SMART Girls, Heritage Keeper, and H2O programs designed to teach the importance of healthy relationships. The staff also wore orange on February 12 to show their solidarity with young people and to support healthy relationships!
Young people experience violence at alarming rates. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:
- Over 71% of women and over 55% of men first experienced intimate partner violence (sexual or physical violence, and/or stalking) under the age of 25 (Smith et al., 2018).
- One in four women first experienced intimate partner violence prior to the age of 18 (Smith et al., 2018).
- Over 80% of women and over 70% of male rape victims experienced their first completed or attempted rape under the age of 25 (Smith et al., 2018).
- Sexual violence is usually committed by someone the survivor knows. Over 28% of girls who experienced sexual violence under the age of 18 were raped by a current or former intimate partner (CDC, n.d.).
- Youth who experience sexual violence as children or teens are more likely to experience
- sexual violence in adulthood. Thirty-five percent of women who were raped as minors were also raped as adults, compared to 10% of women raped as an adult who were not raped as minors (CDC, n.d.).
“A healthy relationship requires open communication, safety, trust, and respect. Teaching kids about healthy relationships and consent should start early with age-appropriate messages through childhood and teen years,” said Adriana Rendon, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV.