February marks the annual observance of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), where we join with young people all over the country to raise awareness about teen dating violence, and focus on advocacy and education to prevent dating abuse before it starts. The 2021 theme is, “Know Your Worth,” which calls us to promote healthy relationships and self-empowerment. We are all worthy of safe, healthy relationships, free from violence!
To help us dive deep, I’ve reached out to a member of the WCA Youth REPs Program, Ailis Murray, to have a conversation about young folks’ involvement in violence prevention work here in the Treasure Valley.
Q: Let’s talk about Youth REPs – how has this experience been valuable to you this year?
A: I’ve always known that I want to make a positive impact in my community, and the Youth REPs program has given me a means to do this. It has been very fulfilling knowing that my work in teen dating violence prevention could potentially help another teen in the community who may be struggling with an abusive relationship.
Q: Let’s talk about the issue – what is the scope of teen dating violence?
A: In the United States, 1 in 3 teens experience dating violence, and two thirds never talk about it. This disheartening tendency for our age group to suffer in silence is just as serious an issue in Boise as it is across the country. The true problem is that we aren’t having those hard conversations enough, and that’s what needs to change.
Q: Let’s talk about the solution – why is it important for young people to lead advocacy and education efforts?
A: This issue will never be entirely solved without effort from within. It needs to be the younger generation that leads by example, supporting their peers and fostering a culture of kindness and sincerity. We need to come together in order to finally reflect the future that we dream of, a future in which everyone knows that they are worthy of a healthy relationship.
Q: Let’s talk about barriers – how can adults best support young folks in doing this vital work?
A: Start a dialogue with the young people in your life. Try to get ahead of the issue, and discuss the warning signs of abusive relationships openly. Be ready to listen. We don’t want to be preached at, we want to be heard. Use your voices to amplify ours, and offer your support whenever it’s asked for.
There is much work to be done, and we have amazing youth leaders standing with us ready to do the work! Let’s take Ailis up on her call to amplify youth voices, listen, and support when asked.
Be sure to follow our TDVAM posts all month long on our social media platforms, and look out for our virtual event with the WCA Youth REPs on Friday, February 26, 2021! Remember, we are all worthy of safe, healthy relationships!