Schools bring awareness to teen dating violence
February 6, 2021
By CHARITY SMITH
Ironwood – In order to spread awareness of teen dating violence, officials with the Domestic Violence Escape shelter have placed information on tables at Bessemer, Hurley, Wakefield-Marenisco, and Mercer schools.
"We just really want to get awareness information out there in general. I don't think people realize just how big of an issue teen dating violence actually is," said Alyssa Ahonen, the Michigan children's advocate for DOVE. "It is actually very common and I don't think a lot of people realize that."
According to Ahonen, 1 of every 3 female high school students will experience teen dating violence.
Ahonen said they are trying to get the information out and let the kids know DOVE is here for them and there is someone to talk to.
Although they may be scared to share with an adult, getting the teens to talk about their experiences is important. She said they are able to speak with a child age 14 or older up to 12 times before parental consent is needed.
"We have guidelines that we can meet with (minor students 14 and older) without parental consent. So if (the student) is not ready to tell their parents or talk to their parents about it, we can help them get there," she said.
Teen domestic violence is like other domestic violence, said Ahonen, and consists of hitting, slapping, sexual abuse and emotional abuse, she said.
DOVE plans to post statistics and other relevant information online through the month, Ahonen said. There will be videos including one created by a couple of students in the Wakefield-Marinesco School District. The video is a cartoon video of what the students' idea of teen dating violence looks like.
In years past, the awareness month was marked with poster contests, art projects and videos.
"Last year we were able to do quite a bit with the schools, but this year with COVID, not knowing if the students were going to be in school or not, we didn't do as much," Ahonen said.
Students who feel they are a victim of teen dating violence can contact DOVE at 906-932-4990. For more information, visit dove-inc.net.