February is Teen Dating Violence (TDV) Awareness and Prevention Month. A lot will be said surrounding the alarming statistics about teen dating violence and there will be suggestions for ways teens can practice healthy relationship behaviors.
At ICADV, we want to take a different approach. Inspired by the brilliant message from teens of Idaho Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, we want to focus on creating conditions where everyone’s whole selves are welcome, as part of our larger prevention strategy to create inclusive, safe, stable and nurturing environments proven to reduce the risk of violent behaviors.
This type of change on a societal level may seem like an overwhelming task, but if each of the 6.7 million Indiana residents would commit to doing one thing to create a more equitable society, their collective action will definitely create social transformation.
This is why we’re also embracing the message of the #1Thing campaign created by the Domestic Violence Awareness Project. Using their principle of Awareness + Action = Social Change, we hope to use this month to present tangible ways to create conditions that promote healthy relationships.
Creating change for teens starts by listening to them
Teenagers in Indiana, and around the country, are speaking up about what they need us to do to create equitable environments where violence never seems like the appropriate choice. To shine a light on their voices, we invite you to visit and promote the following resources:
- We Choose All of Us is a middle school and high school campaign working to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments from the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence. The campaign is designed to “create culture shifts in schools and communities toward a world where everyone is valued, where everyone is safe, and where everyone can thrive.”
- Stand4Respect: Created by the ICADV Youth Council, a group of Indiana teens who created resources about preventing teen dating abuse through the change of culture, not couples. The site contains resources for fostering conversations between adults and teens about healthy relationships, encouraging teens to take action, voicing teens’ points of view to adults who can make changes that impact teens
- In Search of Hidden Treasure: How can we create conditions that help Indiana youth thrive, create healthy relationships and have the best possible future? By asking them directly for their feedback and listening. Luckily, we’ve already done that, and compiled the results into this infographic:
What is #1Thing you can do for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month?
By listening to teens (and using the resources above) we can find specific actions that create safe, stable and nurturing environments that prevent violence:
At home: Talk to the teen in your life about healthy relationships.
In your workplace: advocate for inclusive policies and practices, take an implicit bias training or offer career development and mentorship for teens.
In the government: Contact your legislator in support of policies that create safe stable and nurturing environments in every area from education to infrastructure, healthcare to criminal justice reform, responsible lending practices to paid family leave. Technology has made it possible to easily track legislation, and hold your representatives accountable. Consider signing up for the following:
Ping the People: track Indiana legislation and keywords, with easy text and email alerts
Countable: Read clear and succinct summaries of proposed legislation, directly tell your lawmakers how to vote on those bills, and see how your representatives voted
In your social network: share your story (whether it’s as a survivor or simply why this issue matters to you), speak out against microaggressions and inequitable language, and, of course, share your #1Thing (and this blog post!).
Together, we can end Teen Dating Violence, and create the conditions where Indiana’s youth can reach their full potential.