Because of shame, fear, and lack of awareness, teen dating abuse is one of the most underreported crimes. From one to three teens are victims of abuse by a dating partner, exceeding the other rates of violence among the youth.
These sobering statistics were the focus of Wednesday’s signing that proclaimed February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
The Family Violence Task Force has teamed up with the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence to create an outreach this month and educate the community on the issue of teen dating violence.
“Teen dating violence is physical, sexual, and emotional abuse,” said John Aguon, acting coordinator of the Family Violence Task Force.
This year marks the sixth proclamation signing for this chapter and Shelane Borja, special assistant to the CNMI Youth Affairs Office, who was also present in the first proclamation signing as a high school student, gave an inspirational remark.
“Teens most of the time do not know where to go or who to go to for help. But we can let them know that there is help and that the coalition and the youth centers are here for that reason,” Borja said. “Some teens do not grow out of the abuse. They will grow to think it is OK to be abused and think it is normal. The impact and trauma of teen dating violence can be immediate and long-lasting.”
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said that access to the internet and the access that teens have on their phones have resulted in new ways of teen violence.
“You never know what they are looking at or who they are talking to. Parents have to constantly make sure that we show our kids the right way to love. It all starts with us, the parents, showing that how a healthy relationship looks like,” Torres said.
Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa K. Kim-Tenorio said: “Coincidentally, I was asked about rape within same sex couples. I think it is important for us to recognize that it is not only between a boyfriend or a girlfriend that are experiencing teen dating abuse, but also in same sex couples. How we model ourselves at home is how our children will develop their relationship. “
Some outreach events that will happen this month are Teen Slam Poetry both on Saipan and on Rota. Rota will hold theirs on Feb. 15 and Saipan’s will be held on Feb. 28. A pre-Slam workshop is scheduled for Feb. 23. And a Love is Respect Family Fun Night will be on Feb. 10.
For more information on events, contact the NMCADSV at 234-3878.