Special to the Tribune-Star
Statistics reveal that teen dating violence is a serious problem across the country and in Indiana, but the violence is not inevitable. The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence is launching the youth-guided prevention campaign, “Stand 4 Respect” across the state as students head back to school this month.
Statistics from the CDC indicate that more than 10 percent of Indiana students surveyed in the ninth to 12th grades reported being hit, slapped or physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year alone (Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2009). In addition, 17 percent of high school girls surveyed in Indiana reported an experience of forced sexual intercourse in their lifetime (YRBS 2009).
The Indiana survey data only captures the prevalence of physical forms of abuse. National surveys that evaluate the broader spectrum of abusive behaviors — including emotional and tech forms of abuse-report victimization rates among teens as high as 50 percent.
“These statistics are unconscionable, and as adults, we have the responsibility to take preventive action to keep our kids safe,” said Colleen Yeakle, Prevention Initiatives Coordinator. “The old prevention strategies — where adults warn teens about the risks in their environment and then leave them to navigate those dangers — have not been very effective in preventing teen dating violence,” she said. “Rather than trying to teach our kids how to dodge the risks in our communities, we think that it is the responsibility of adults to work to eliminate those risks. The Indiana teens featured in the public service announcements came together for this purpose — to tell adults about the impact that teen dating violence has in their lives and to ask adults to take a stand to end it.”
The teens wrote their own scripts asking adult leaders like parents, teachers, mentors, administrators, ministers and coaches to take proactive steps to establish healthy, respectful relationships as the expected norm in their families, organizations and communities. The teens’ public service announcements direct the adult audience to the Stand4Respect website: www.stand4respect.org. The site provides adults with concrete information about how they can talk with youth about healthy relationships, how they can listen and create honest dialogue about teen relationships, how they can model respectful behaviors, and how they can adopt organizational policies that promote healthy relationships.
ICADV works to eliminate domestic violence through the implementation of prevention programs including public education, advocacy for system and societal change, influencing public policy and allocation of resources. Until the violence is ended, ICADV works to promote, strengthen and provide quality comprehensive services for member programs and all individuals affected by domestic violence in all 92 counties across the state.