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HV Advocacy Officials Applaud NYS Teen Dating Violence Awareness Campaign

Courtesy of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

There’s a new social media campaign in New York designed to educate teens, young adults, and others about teen dating violence. The campaign comes as Governor Andrew Cuomo has proclaimed February Teen Dating Violence Awareness/Prevention Month.

The social media campaign is a video by teens for teens.

Those are student actors from Troy-based Lansingburgh High School who along with staff members partnered with the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to create the campaign #ICanDoSomethingNY. Ann Ellsworth is executive director of Putnam Northern Westchester Women's Resource Center. She thinks having teens deliver a message to their peers is an effective method of heightening awareness. And she says what is happening across the country is mirrored at her center.

“What we start to see are bullying texts. We start to see bullying statements on Facebook putting each other down,” says Ellsworth. “The stuff, I don’t want to date myself, but the stuff that used to just happen in the hallways and in the lunchroom in the playground, sadly, are happening when you go home. It’s happening on the bus. It’s happening when you’re with your family at dinner. And so there’s no real boundary around accessing a young person’s life in a negative way.”

Brian Doyle is chief executive officer at Poughkeepsie-based Family Services.

“Oh I think it’s far better for teens to be talking to teens versus adults lecturing to teens. So I applaud those efforts to have that teen-to-teen conversation,” says Doyle. “It’s very important and, as a matter of fact, we’re involved in mentors in violence prevention.”

He adds:

“It’s never too early at any stage in the life of children to speak about the need for and the value of  respectful relationships, ones where power and domination are not coming into play but rather, as I said, respect, regard for a person’s dignity,” Doyle says.

Again, Ellsworth.

“There’s more prevalence among girls and women, absolutely, but we also don’t know how many young men, and men don’t come forward to seek help. And so I’m always sort of reticent to say it’s one or the other,” says Ellsworth. “We served over 155 men and boys last year here in our agency who were victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, bullying.”

Ellsworth says preventing teen dating violence is about changing the culture.

“The sending of pictures and bullying though pictures on texts is increasing. Sadly we see it as young as middle school where kids are bullied into and coerced into sending pictures of themselves that are then sent to the entire class or the entire group and then they’re sent out again,” says Ellsworth. “And if kids would see that and stop it. I’m proud to say that I have friends whose children have come to them and said, ‘Mom, look what’s on my phone. What do I do about it?’ instead of  just sending if forward. We need more of those kids. We need more kids that say, wait, this isn’t right, boys or girls.”

The color orange has been designated for Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Again, the campaign is #ICanDoSomethingNY.

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