Writing Opportunity—Preventing Teen Dating Violence

Updated: Feb 24

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Many people are unaware of how prevalent teen dating violence is.

In the US, one in three teens will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from someone they’re in a relationship with before they become adults—and nearly half of college women report experiencing abusive dating behavior.

Here in Nevada County, 80 percent of youth ages 12-25 reported having experienced, or knowing someone who has experienced, domestic violence in a survey conducted by the Nevada County Community Action Team (NCCAT, a community volunteer group led by the Community Beyond Violence Prevention Team).

How Does Dating Violence Affect Us?

Experience of, and exposure to, violence can lead to a young person’s perpetuating the cycle of abuse into adulthood (either as a perpetrator or victim) and can lead to many other long-term harmful effects such as struggles with substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and more.

Education is key to prevention. Our Prevention Team is actively collaborating with local school counselors, teachers, and administrators to bring violence prevention to our students, particularly through our Healthy Relationships training program. This program teaches teens about consent, setting boundaries, traits of a healthy relationship, red flags that indicate an unhealthy relationship, where to seek support, and much more. Students themselves have been asking for action and education around this issue.

Learning The Upstream Model From From Desmond Tutu

You may have heard this quote from Desmond Tutu: We need to stop jumping in the river to save people; we need to go upstream to find out why they’re falling in. This popular allegory (on which Mr. Tutu’s quote is based) illustrates the importance of solving public health issues—such as violence prevention—by getting to the root of the problem: As you’re standing by a river and see someone drowning as they float downstream, you jump in to save them. But, as you try to save more drowning people, you realize you need to go upstream to discover what is causing so many people to fall into the river. You discover a hole in the bridge where people are falling through.

In order to further respond to students’ needs for action around violence prevention, our team is inviting them to participate in a creative writing opportunity titled, “Building Bridges Beyond Violence: My View.” We believe it is important to hear from those who are directly affected by teen dating violence and begin the discussion around what changes could help prevent this behavior.

Upstream Writing Prompt: Earn Money!

Here is the writing prompt: After reading the “upstream” story above, what are some bridges that need to be repaired in our community that can help prevent teen dating violence? We encourage youth to be as creative as they wish. Essays should be 1,000 words or less—and one submission per participant will be accepted. We will award those who submit the first 25 essays a $150 Visa gift card; all other participants will be rewarded. The deadline for submission is March 5, 2022. All submissions may be sent online here: cbv.org/write.

Community Beyond Violence’s NCCAT invites people of all ages to join us in working toward creative change through healthier relationships. If you are interested, visit http://www.nevadacountycommunityactionteam.org/contact, or email marah@cbv.org or mk@cbv.org. We welcome your thoughts and participation.

Need Resources For Teen Dating Violence or Domestic Violence?

If you or someone you know is struggling with an unhealthy relationship, call our 24-hour crisis line at 530-272-3467. You can also reach us via text at 530-290-6555 or via webchat at rc.chat/cbv. For more information about all our services, visit http://www.cbv.org.

MK Webb and Marah DeFlavia are Community Organizers with the Community Beyond Violence Prevention Team.

Original article posted 2/15/22 through The Union. View original article here: https://www.theunion.com/opinion/columns/mk-webb-and-marah-deflavia-preventing-teen-dating-violence/.

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