Posts Tagged ‘Teen dating’
Taunton’s SEMA-VAV kick-off breakfast launches White Ribbon Campaign to help stop teen dating violence.
Teen dating violence needs to stop.
That’s the message being sent by high school students, parents, city officials, state legislators and community leaders who came together on Saturday and pledged to wear white ribbons throughout the week to draw attention to the issue of teen dating violence.
Southeastern Massachusetts Voices Against Violence (SEMA-VAV) held a kickoff breakfast for Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Week, which was proclaimed by Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye through Feb. 11 in the city.
“We are talking about a societal change,” said Annemarie Matulis, director of SEMA-VAV. “It’s going to take a long time.”
Matulis said the white ribbon campaign will help start a dialogue about dating violence, and will help those who want to stand up against the abuse happens all too often among boyfriends and girlfriends.
Matulis also said she hopes to set a record for the most people at a time to wear white ribbons during the week, after delivering the ribbons to local schools and collecting pledges for the campaign from citizens throughout the community.
Matulis said one of the biggest hurdles to reducing dating violence is, for whatever reason, many young people will not speak up to parents or adult leaders when they are being abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
“The biggest barrier we have is that kids won’t tell adults,” Matulis said. “I guess they feel that adults won’t really hear it, or they don’t want them to know because they don’t want to be forced to break up. It’s awful.”
Matulis said she also knows that some young girls honestly believe being controlled, pushed and shoved, slapped and sexually assaulted is part of a dating ritual.
Many victims often don’t come forward because they feel responsible for solving their own problems, or for some reason think abuse is normal and extreme jealousy is romantic.
“It’s a public health epidemic,” Matulis said.
Matulis said in addition to encouraging young people to go to adults to talk about instances of abuse, parents should be on the lookout for symptoms of abuse, including physical signs of injury or trauma, changes in personality, and suddenly adopting a quiet behavior. Other signs can include truancy at school, indecision, emotional outbursts and failing grades.
Hoye said it is important to keep dating violence at the forefront.
“As we know, it goes right down in the high school level,” Hoye said.