While February may be the shortest month that does not mean it does not bring awareness to important issues. February is Teen Domestic Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). A month encouraging the education of teens and prevention of dating violence.
“Unfortunately, in my previous off-campus 30-year career with Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, I responded to, and investigated far too many domestic violence incidents, these ranged from verbal to physical and even in several cases, murder at the hands of someone’s loved one…,” said Stu Hite, Pittsburg State University police. “…I take any report of this type of crime very serious because of this, as does University Police as a whole, please don’t make excuses for someone that may have been violent towards you. It is not ok under any circumstance, no matter what excuse they may offer after the fact,”
Teens are typically considered anyone between the ages of twelve and nineteen years old. Thirty-three precent of adolescents in America are victims to sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional dating abuse. College freshmen are considered teens, being eighteen or nineteen years of age. Moving away from home and being on their own for the first time puts many at risk for abuse.
“TDVAM focuses specifically on the 12-19 age range which experiences the highest rate of (domestic violenc)..,” said Megan Woodfield, SVP co-advisor. “…Things that can be done are parents can talk to their children about what healthy dating should look like and keep communication going, friends can become aware of signs and speak up if they see or hear something they don’t think is ok, and we can all work together to be active bystanders, support and believe survivors of violence and help to educate others on healthy dating and resources for those who need them,”
After many teens and adults brought awareness to the issue, TDVAM was declared an awareness month in 2010. The color associated with the awareness month is orange.
“Some people may be under the impression that because they are younger that adolescent relationships and issues can’t be as serious or deadly, but that is not the case,” said Christina Spriggs-Graham, PSU alum. “In 2019, JAMA Pediatrics published a study which found that 150 of the 2,000 adolescents killed between 2003 and 2016 were killed by their current or former intimate partners.”
Someone who is experiencing abuse can get help in a variety of ways. Pittsburg State University has an online form that can be filled out for sexual assault. Students can contact Campus PD to report violence, stalking, assault, etc. Students can also contact the campus victim advocate.
“In the past SVP (Students for Violence Prevention) has gone to local high schools with Safehouse Crisis Center and done the One Love Foundation’s “Escalation” workshop, this workshop includes a discussion where students talk about the abusive relationship depicted in the film to better understand the signs and how they can help someone in that situation,” Woodfield said.
To promote healthy relationships SVP will be hosting a healthy relationship contest. Students can log onto gorilla engage and fill out a form with a romantic or platonic partner/friend for a chance to win a home date pack. They will also be sharing information about safe dating online.
“Teens and parents anywhere in the country can call toll free, 866-331-9474 or log on to the interactive Web site, loveisrespect.org, and receive immediate, confidential assistance..,” Spriggs-Graham said. “…In addition to a toll-free phone line, loveisrepect.org will be the first interactive dating abuse website, staffed by trained advocates, where teens can write and immediately get assistance in a one-on-one private chat room,”
Off-campus resources include the SafeHouse Crisis Center here in Pittsburg. SafeHouse has a variety of resources for survivors of abuse.