On January 31, 2012, the White House issued a presidential proclamation pronouncing February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.
Abuse in teen dating relationships is not limited to physical and sexual violence; it also can also include verbal abuse, stalking, unwanted telephone calls and e-mail messages, monitoring cell phone usage, and other forms of controlling and intimidating behavior.
To address this problem, the OJJDP-funded Project Youth Safety launched a public awareness campaign at the Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School in San Francisco on January 31, 2012. The event, which was attended by healthcare officials from local clinics, representatives of government agencies, and elected officials, unveiled posters for buses, subways, and malls; a 30-second radio PSA; a fact sheet; and brochures to be distributed in the San Francisco area. The campaign is designed to empower youth to stand up to abuse. It also provides a strong message to healthcare providers and other caring adults to help youth learn more about the issue, foster healthy relationships, and intervene more effectively when they suspect relationship abuse. The campaign is expected to reach more than 16 million people.
Nearly 1 in 3 teens who have been in relationships have experienced violence and abuse. Youth who have experienced relationship abuse have a higher likelihood of being in abusive relationships as adults. "These numbers are sobering, and far too many teens suffer silently in abusive relationships," said Melodee Hanes, OJJDP Acting Administrator. "Working together, we need to do what is right for America's children. We are pleased to partner in this effort to spread the word about teen dating violence and, most importantly, help teens know they can stop it."
The kickoff event featured a panel discussion with Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Lisa Fujie Parks, Prevention Program Manager, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence; and Melanie M. Natividad, Community Health Outreach Coordinator, Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School. The panel defined adolescent relationship abuse and discussed the strategies being implemented to address the problem on the national, state, and local levels.
Funded through a cooperative agreement from OJJDP, Project Youth Safety is a comprehensive multimedia, multicultural public awareness initiative promoting child and youth safety at the community level. In addition to teen dating violence, Project Youth Safety has developed media campaigns on four child and youth safety issues in four different geographical areas:
A final media campaign on cell phone safety is expected to launch in Rochester, NY, in the near future. Check the Project Youth Safety Web site for public awareness campaign materials on cell phone safety as they become available.
The Project Youth Safety initiative has been developed and directed by INOBTR ("I Know Better"), a nonprofit organization that promotes public awareness to keep children safe.
Access Public Awareness Campaign Materials Online
Public awareness campaign materials are available for downloading at the Project Youth Safety Web site. The materials are designed for flexible use by communities and organizations. In addition to teen dating violence, the site features public awareness campaign materials on child abuse and neglect, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and teen homelessness. Site visitors can also request assistance in customizing a program for use in their communities.
To learn more about Project Youth Safety, visit its Web site. More information about teen dating violence is available on the Web sites of the National Resource Center for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, the Office on Violence Against Women, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Choose Respect Initiative, the National Dating Abuse Helpline, and Violence Against Women Online Resources.