February is national Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month. National statistics show that 1 in 3 teens experience teen dating violence. Last year, Tahoe SAFE Alliance conducted a survey in Truckee, North Tahoe and Incline High Schools and the results indicated that 80% of students knew someone in an unhealthy relationship.
Even though teen and young adult relationships may be different from adult relationships, young people do experience the same types of physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse that adults do. This comes in the form of jealousy, controlling behavior like constant texting and checking up on a partner, isolating a partner from family and friends, verbal abuse, making a partner perform a sexual act that they are not comfortable with, and physical abuse like slapping, pushing, and other violent behavior.
Tahoe SAFE Alliance is helping to reduce the effects on dating violence on area teens through their comprehensive Prevention Program. Through collaboration with the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District and Incline Schools in Washoe County, the non-profit organization provides age-appropriate presentations on violence prevention and facilitates Youth Empowerment and Leadership Groups in middle and high schools. These groups are designed to provide a safe environment for students to discuss topics relevant in their lives with a focus on safety, healthy relationships, respect, anger management, and positive communication. Last year, 190 students participated in Youth Empowerment Groups facilitated by Tahoe SAFE Alliance. Tahoe SAFE Alliance also helps staff the Wellness Centers at North Tahoe and Truckee High Schools where teens can talk one-on-one with staff in a safe, empowering, and non-judgmental setting.
“I’ve been in the group for a few weeks and we talk about all kinds of things like jealousy, dating and expectations, control and power, love and respect, and how to set boundaries. This group has given me a lot of insight and Tahoe SAFE Alliance has helped me to begin talking about these things with my girlfriend. They have given me confidence and I feel in better control of my feelings.” 15 year old male student at North Tahoe High School.
While Tahoe SAFE Alliance’s Prevention Program is making an impact in the schools and on our youth and teens, parents are active participants in violence prevention and education. For parents who have children beginning to date, it’s important to talk to them about the responsibility of dating and the importance of being in a partnership that is equal, honest, supportive, and respectful of boundaries. Fear, peer pressure and lack of resources can make a teen feel trapped in a violent relationship. Online resources like Love is Respect, www.loveisrespect.org, provides valuable information and tool for parents and teens to learn about things like dating basics, understanding signs of an unhealthy relationship, and resources to get help including an online chat. Tahoe SAFE Alliance also operates a 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-736-1060.
Interested in Volunteering?
Tahoe SAFE Alliance’s Youth Empowerment Groups are 10-week groups facilitated by Tahoe SAFE Alliance educators and certified volunteers. For community members interested in helping us make an impact on area youth, we offer a 68-hour Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) in the spring and fall. Spring CIT begins in April. Certification allows community members to volunteer in direct client programs such as Prevention. For more information about volunteering please go to www.tahoe safealliance.org or call 775-298-0010.