Organizations raise teen dating violence awareness

RSVP has been raising awareness through posts on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Well into its third year, Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month has banded together organizations and programs nationwide in an attempt to resolve today’s teen dating issues.

On campus, the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center disseminates information about teen dating violence to the student body through its website. The website constructs the history of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention legislation and links students to www.loveisrespect.org if they are experiencing or witnessing teen dating violence.

“Teen Dating Violence Awareness (and Prevention) Month is an opportunity for us to highlight the importance of early intervention and prevention of dating violence,” RSVP coordinator Danica Wolf said. “At a time when individuals are forming their norms and opinions about dating and interpersonal relationships, it is vital that teens are seeing examples of healthy relationships and healthy communication as well as the importance of intervening if they see warning signs in a friend’s relationship.”

Along with the RSVP Center, Stronger Together Against Relationship & Sexual Violence, the Women’s Center and other MU organizations will be hosting their 11th Annual Vagina Monologues on Feb. 18. The event does not specifically address teen dating violence, as most of its audience are no longer teens, but it does elaborate on relationship issues.

Junior Shanae Adams, who has worked in the RSVP Center for a year and a half, has witnessed teen dating violence in high school and in college. She said she believes there is a significant difference between the two.

“The difference between high school and college dating violence is obviously the age difference, maturity and bullying,” Adams said. “In high school, I feel like there is more pressure to fit in and figure out who you are within the means of those who are around you. In college, you kind of already know who you are. Also there is just less bullying in college.”

Although the definition of teen dating violence can be broad, according to the official teen dating violence awareness month website, some common signals include constantly putting down one’s partner, checking the email or cell phone messages of one’s partner without permission, extreme jealousy and insecurity, isolating one’s family and friends and physically hurting one’s partner in any way.

Within Columbia, True North, a local domestic and sexual violence services agency, promotes awareness of teen dating violence. True North outreach coordinator Matthew Huffman visited Rock Bridge High School on Feb. 1, where he set up an informational table to educate the students about teen dating violence issues.

Hickman High School’s Helping Our Peers Everywhere club and Huffman plan on raising awareness of teen dating violence Feb. 16. By having an informational table and playing a teen dating trivia games with rewards, Huffman hopes to spread the word about teen dating violence.

Huffman will be a speaker at the STARS Speaks Series: Dating with the STARS, where he said he would take questions about teen dating violence if asked. In the meantime, Huffman encourages teen dating violence bystanders to “direct, distract and delegate,” a method in which the bystander intervenes in the situation directly, distracts the potential perpetrator away from the situation or finds someone who can more effectively intervene into the situation.

Sophomore Ryan Manganelli believes that he would intervene if he saw teen dating violence, as long as he was within his boundaries. He said he has not had to prevent teen dating violence, due to the fact most of the relationships around him are healthy.

“If it is a prevalent issue, I hope it gets resolved,” Manganelli said.

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