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Campaign launched to end teen dating violence

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) —  There is a new campaign aimed at ending dating violence among teenagers. Indianapolis Public Schools and the Domestic Violence Network is partnering to spread awareness and get students’ help. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, therefore 14 billboards, signage on IndyGo buses and posters around schools will be displayed in Indianapolis through February, which is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month.

When it comes to teenagers, the statistics are staggering.

“One in three young people experience some form of dating violence. Whether that is emotional, verbal through social media, stalking, sexual abuse or physical,” said Lindsay Stawick.

(Provided Photo/IPS & DVN Campaign)

Stawick is the associate director for the Domestic Violence Network and said one in 10 Indiana students report being physically harmed by an intimate partner. Statistics show that 10% of teens surveyed in Indiana said they have been forced to have sex against their will. Indiana is also ranked third out of 30 states for teen dating violence.

“Teen dating violence is at epidemic proportions. Indiana ranks pretty high up there for teen dating violence in our state and where is the best area to reach these kids? In the educational environments they are all in,” said Kim Kennedy.

Kennedy is the IPS Title IX Coordinator and is using federal law to protect kids.

“Coincides with the new federal regulations from U.S. DOE that said K-12 you need to address this issue. It is a form of gender discrimination. So, applying the protections that already exist will only work if parents, students and staff report those incidents,” said Kennedy.

Indianapolis Public Schools amended its Title IX policy to include teen dating violence guidelines and resources in Oct. 2018 after a group of female students from Crispus Attucks High School stepped forward to raise awareness and request attention to the issues surrounding teen dating abuse/violence in IPS schools. 

(Provided Photo/IPS & DVN Campaign)

The updated policy includes initiatives to address teen dating abuse in both high schools and middle schools, including ways to report anonymously on school websites. The policy creates an appointed Teen Dating Abuse Advocate for all middle and high schools who serves as the primary resource for students experiencing teen dating abuse. Additionally, literature and resources are shared within middle and high schools from the Domestic Violence Network. Programming also includes prevention efforts through The Change Project, a healthy relationship class available to middle schools by request. 

This is also where the campaign to end teen dating violence, comes in. The two women worked with students, allowing the kids to come up with the 14 billboards, panels displayed on IndyGo buses and posters now up at various schools.

“They came up with the slogans and they came up with pictures,” said Kennedy.

Students, urging students to recognize the signs and easily get help. The billboards offer a link, to a specialized IPS website where kids can find resources. Students can also simply text 3-1-9-9-6 anonymously for immediate help.  

“It allows them to not just say what maybe they need, but maybe give me some resources or explain to me what a healthy relationship is… or I am a little concerned about my friend,” said Kennedy.

Perhaps this is the first step in starting this important conversation. These experts said they start seeing this type of domestic violence in kids as young as 12 and 13 years old. Therefore, it’s also important for parents and teachers to look for signs such as students fighting or skipping class and pay attention to this campaign.

“It is definitely an issue that needs to be talked about that happens all the time to young people,” said Stawick. “They are not shy about doing campaigns because they want their friends to be safe and healthy.”

For more information on the IPS Title IX policy and teen dating violence resources, click here.