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New York launches new social media campaign to raise awareness of teen dating violence

by jmaloni


Thu, Feb 12th 2015 03:45 pm

Lansingburgh H.S. students "star" in video, educate peers about #ICanDoSomethingNY

Cuomo proclaims February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

New York has announced a new social media campaign designed to educate teens, young adults and others about teen dating violence, which national research has shown affects one in four teens, regardless of their gender. The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence is coordinating the campaign, which encourages young people to start a virtual conversation about the issue by using the hash tag #ICanDoSomethingNY.

"We encourage young people - and all people - to speak up and step in when they see something happening that doesn't feel right, whether they are in school or in the community," said Gwen Wright, executive director of the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. "When peers intercede to take a stand against violence and abuse, they can create change. I'd like to thank Lansingburgh High staff members and students for partnering with us to create this campaign, which will help teens navigate the tricky waters of dating and relationships and send a strong message that destructive behaviors won't be tolerated."

Wright visited Lansingburgh High School to highlight the campaign, which includes a four-minute video that stars student actors from the school. The students describe different dating abuse scenarios, stress the importance of being an "active bystander" by reaching out to a friend in need, and offer ideas about ways to educate peers and others about the issue, via social media and in person. Joining her were Principal Frank Macri, students who starred in the video and more than 200 of their peers.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proclaimed February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Read the proclamation about the issue, which can take many forms, including controlling behavior, such as constant texting or preventing a partner from spending time with friends, verbal abuse and physical violence.

According to national research on the topic, 62 percent of "tweens" who were age 11 through 14 said they know friends who have been verbally abused - called stupid, worthless, ugly, etc. - by their boyfriends/girlfriends. In addition, approximately one in 10 teens reported they were hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend.

Macri said, "Awareness is prevention. Providing teens with information about what they can do to ensure that they and their friends engage in healthy relationships is an important step in making sure they have real life skills that will empower them to be productive adults."

To coincide with the video screening, students and others in attendance wore or sported orange, as the color has been designated for Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. In addition to organizing a "Wear Orange" Day and promoting the event with the hash tag #orange4love, the video encourages teens and young adults to do their part by:

•Becoming an active bystander, which means speaking up, taking a stand or getting help whenever they see situations - whether they are actual or virtual - in which individuals are being treated in a way that doesn't seem appropriate.

•Participating in the "Send a Candy Heart" campaign. The campaign encourages individuals to take a photo of themselves holding oversized, paper versions of candy conversation hearts that feature the words, "I will..." followed by something they will commit to do to raise awareness about teen dating abuse. The photos can be shared via social media using the hashtag #tdvcandyhearts.

Lansingburgh Schools Superintendent Cynthia DeDominick said, "Lansingburgh welcomed the opportunity for our students to create this video to highlight awareness of dating violence. Our students, just like all students in New York state, know that dating violence occurs. The video demonstrates the importance of not looking the other way, and of being concerned enough to talk about it."

Elizabeth Cronin, director of the Office of Victim Services, said, "Teen dating violence is a serious issue that crosses gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic lines. All New Yorkers can, and must, do something about it. Congratulations to Lansingburgh High School for taking on this challenge. I encourage teens and young adults across the state to follow their lead by starting a conversation in their own communities."

Milinda Reed, director of domestic violence services at Unity House of Troy said, "Helping teens learn about and build healthy relationships are keys in the fight against both teen dating violence and adult domestic violence. I strongly encourage all middle and high schools to use this video and incorporate comprehensive teen dating violence and healthy relationship education into their curricula during February and all year long."

Connie Neal, executive director of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said, "This thoughtful and engaging campaign promotes responsible bystander behaviors for adolescents and recognizes that everyone has a role to play in creating a community free from violence. The video offers tips by young people for young people for safely intervening whenever they see unhealthy and dangerous relationship behaviors among their peers. This is a vital step towards preventing teen dating violence."

Anyone who is a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault can seek help 24 hours a day by calling the state's toll-free hotline: 1-800-942-6906.

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (www.opdv.ny.gov) is charged with improving the response of state and local communities to domestic violence. OPDV provides guidance to executive staff on policy and legislation; conducts statewide community outreach and public education programs; and trains professionals on addressing domestic violence in a wide array of disciplines, including child welfare, law enforcement and health care.

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