ILION – One out of three teens experiences an unhealthy dating relationship by the time they reach age 18, according to a study conducted by the CDC. Fifty-seven percent of teens know of a fellow teen who has been in a physically, sexually or verbally abusive relationship.
The Domestic Violence Program of Herkimer County wants to lower those numbers.
“A lot of people don’t realize violence can happen even at that young age,” said Allysa Rader, community education outreach coordinator with the Herkimer County Domestic Violence Program. “That’s why it’s so important to get awareness out there.”
With February being Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, Rader and The Domestic Violence Program are making a special effort to spread the word and give parents and teens the tools they need to recognize, avoid and get out of abusive dating situations.
On Feb. 15, parents, teens and teachers are invited to attend a Community Conversation at Herkimer High School, where a discussion panel of community professionals will talk about teen dating and relationships.
“We’ll talk about the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, signs and signals that a teen is in an unhealthy relationship, how to talk to teens about it and how parents influence teen dating and relationships,” Rader said.
The event will take place 6 to 8 p.m. in the high school cafeteria on West German Street.
Another alarming CDC statistic in teen dating violence is that only 10 percent of teens experiencing violence tell someone about it during the relationship.
“We’re hoping to change that,” Rader said. “We hope to encourage local youth to come forward.”
To further spread awareness and empower teens, The Domestic Violence Program is holding a Teen Dating Violence Awareness Poster Contest, thanks to a grant from Kristin’s Fund – a Utica-based non-profit created in memory of Kristin Palumbo Longo, who lost her life to domestic violence in 2009.
Herkimer County teens between 12 and 18 are invited to design a poster to raise awareness of the issue.
“The winner’s design will be turned into a professionally printed poster,” Rader said. “And we received some great donations for prizes.”
The first place design will receive $100 cash, donated by Remington Federal Credit Union, second place receives a $50 gift certificate to Stewart’s, donated by Stewart’s, and third place will receive a $10 gift certificate to Applebee’s.
In addition, all poster contest entries will be put on display during Herkimer College’s Yards for Yeardley event April 10.
Submissions must be turned in at Catholic Charities in Ilion by Feb. 23. For more details, those interested can check out The Domestic Violence Program’s Facebook page (facebook.com/domestic-violence-program-of-herkimer-county) or call 315-866-0458.