For the first time in the CNMI, a proclamation that seeks to fight teen dating violence has been signed in the CNMI, witnessed by approximately 1,600 students of Marianas High School.
The proclamation designates the month of February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said this was the first time a proclamation for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month was signed in an educational institution and it shows how important it is that students know that help can be found as long as they take the first step to getting the help they need.
“You’re in a relationship because you’re suppose to love each other and respect each other. If you’re not getting that love and care, then you should speak up,” he said.
According to MHS principal Cherlyn Cabrera, teen dating violence is constantly seen on campus but it is not openly discussed. Usually, a counselor or teacher is only made aware of an incident when the situation has already gotten out of hand.
“I am so glad we had the proclamation signing here…with a lot of proclamation signings they’ve done at the Governor’s Office. This way, we wanted to bring our entire student population so they could see how important it is to dedicate a whole month to teen dating violence awareness,” she said.
Maisie Tenorio, executive director of the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said it should start with parents because it’s important that children are taught at home to make healthy choices and that they are empowered to make those choices for themselves to avoid getting into toxic relationships, be it with a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend.
“We’re really using February as a way to spread the message, challenge adults, to empower teens, and to create a safe environment for all of our children,” she said.
Torres said it is vital that teens speak up and look for help at the first sign of emotional or physical abuse.
“The more we talk about it with students, the better it is for their relationships. That they should not be forced into it, whether it’s physically or emotionally, because none of them deserve that,” he said.
Throughout the month of February, the coalition will be hosting poetry slams that will encourage teens to speak out about teen dating violence, share their teen dating violence stories, or just educate one another about what teen dating violence is.