February 11, 2011 - February is National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month. Dating violence is a serious public health issue in Knox County. Eleven percent of Knox County high school students report being hit, slapped or physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year. That's why the Boys and Men Preventing Violence Task Force would like to invite media members to its strategic planning meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 11:30 a.m. in the Community Room of Knox County Health Department, 140 Dameron Avenue.
The task force's mission is to raise public awareness about the prevalence of teen dating violence and educate teens, parents and school staff to recognize the early warning signs of an abusive relationship.
"Many teens don't report dating violence because they are afraid to tell friends and family," said Karen Stier, task force coordinator for Knox County Health Department. "It is important for teens to know violence is not part of any healthy relationship, and teens should tell someone if it's happening to them."
Only about one third of teens experiencing dating violence ever tell anyone. Research reveals high school students who experience violence in a dating relationship are at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, suicide and becoming adult victims.
According to Break the Cycle (www.breakthecycle.org), parents can look for early warning signs
that can help identify if a teen is in an abusive relationship before it's too late.
Some of the
Your teen's partner behaves in a way that is extremely jealous or possessive, such as
checking in on your daughter or son often.
You hear verbal abuse, such as name-calling and demeaning comments.
Your teen gives up things that are important, such as time with friends and family,
activities, or other interests.
Your teen has unexplained injuries.
Your teen's partner abuses other people or animals.
Thank you for keeping the public informed about important violence prevention initiatives in the community. The task force co-chairs, Ronald Morton, director of Resiliency & Recovery for Volunteer State Health Plan/Value Options and Jorge Ferrer, safety director for the Oak Ridge Department. of Engineering, will be available for interviews.