On Aug. 11, 2011, 18-year-old Celeste LaCour-Belyn of New Albany, Ohio, was killed by her ex-boyfriend in her own home. Teenager Johanna Orozco, of Cleveland, was raped, stalked and then shot in the face by an ex-boyfriend. In Franklin County, Shynerra Grant was shot in the head by an abusive ex-boyfriend who had earlier broken the cheerleader's jaw.
These are the stories that have been in the news, but there are countless other teens experiencing teen dating violence. In a nationwide survey, 9.4 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Amy Bonomi, professor and researcher at Ohio State University asked 271 students aged 21 and under about their dating history between ages 13 and 19. She found that nearly two-thirds reported some type of abuse during their teenage years, which is in line with other studies. The study found that for females reporting dating violence, "controlling behaviors" tended to occur early with 44 percent reporting it between the ages of 13 and 15. Parents of both Grant and LaCour-Belyn stated that the first sign they recognized in their daughters relationship was the controlling behavior.
These stories call for better education for youth. They need to learn about healthy relationships and to be equipped to help themselves or friends with intimate dating violence. EVE, incorporated has received a grant from the HealthPath Foundation of Ohio to do just that.
The Safe Dates Program will be offered to schools and youth groups to target attitudes and behaviors associated with dating abuse and violence. It will help teens recognize the difference between caring, supportive relationships and controlling, manipulative, or abusive relationships. Safe Dates is an evidence-based curriculum that has strong outcomes and has been proven effective with boys as well as girls. It addresses both teens that abuse and teens that are abused, and acknowledges that either gender could play either role. Each of the 4 sessions is 50 minutes long and can be flexibly scheduled (e.g. daily or weekly sessions).
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and together we can make a difference in the lives of our children and for future generations in stopping domestic violence. If you are interested in having the Safe Dates program in your classroom or youth group call EVE at (740) 374-5820.