Teen Dating Violence Topic of Program

Feb 9, 2015

Teen Couple Holding Hands
Credit Aimee Heart / Flickr

A program this week is designed to educate young people about teen violence.  It will also provide those involved in abusive relationships with information about how to get help and about the importance of telling someone what’s going on.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more.

The problem of abuse in teenage relationships is probably greater than many people realize.  Statistics show that abuse in teen relationships is fairly common.

"One in three high school relationships involve some sort of physical, emotional or sexual abuse," said Lana Martin, the sexual assault nurse examiner at CoxHealth. 

She believes the problem is even more widespread than statistics show.  According to Martin, two out of three teens in abusive relationships never tell anyone.

"They feel that they are to blame for what is happening to them, so they feel guilty when things happen to them," she said.

It' s important that young people  get help if they're in abusive relationships, she said, because teen dating violence is a stepping stone into violence in adulthood.  And she said it puts victims at risk for sexual violence as they get older.

A program this week, geared towards ages 15 to about 24, will educate participants about why it's important to tell someone if they experience abuse and how to do so.

"So, it's kind of heading off that stepping stone and kind of doing that first step in prevention and intervention when we can, and, two, to kind of help them to get out of that situation, to find resources and ways to maybe make things better, make things right in their life, so, kind of arm them with the ability to make good decisions," she said.

Teen Dating Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness will be held Thursday night (2/12) at 6:30 at Cox South.  Experts from CoxHealth, the Community Partnership of the Ozarks, the Greene County Prosecutor's Office and the Springfield Police Department will hold a panel discussion, and Martin will give prevention tips.

"Prevention with dating violence is more about making good decisions, so kind of arming the young people with information, and kind of giving them the data on, 'here's what is a good relationship, here is what is not a good relationship.  If you find yourself falling into the pattern of here's not a good relationship, here's what we can do to help you get out of that or here's what your school can help you do to get out of that,'" she said.

Martin said some teens may not be aware that what's  happening to them isn't normal.

The program isn't just geared towards females.  Martin said males can be victims of teen violence, too. 

To RSVP for Thursday's program, 269-INFO.