submitted by Harshitha Ram
One in 3 teens go through dating violence, experiencing abusive and unhealthy relationships. These toxic relationships cause depression and anxiety symptoms and engage in unhealthy behaviors. If these relationship problems remain unsolved, teens’ future relationships remain at risk.
Pinnacle High School’s (PHS) Peer Advocate Crew (PAC) aims to solve this problem with campaigns, table events, and meetings during lunch to discuss taboo topics. Freshman Harshitha Ram, who runs the club, discussed the issue and the club.
During the PAC meetings, they discussed clothing and sexual assault, questions about consent and respect and interactions with victims of dating violence.
“We also talk about empathy; how to empathize with someone going through something and how to talk to them,” Ram said.
Ram emphasized the importance of communication as a topic at meetings.
“Make sure to speak to people, ask if they’re ok, [but] not direct questions,” Ram advised. “If someone seems like they’re having a hard time, ask. Ask questions, but not in a way that can hurt them,” Ram said.
Ram believes that to help this issue, schools and communities should focus on education.
“Students should be educated on red flags, so people are more aware of what they’re getting themselves into,” said Ram.
Counselor Joel Newbury brought awareness to the resources available for students on the PHS campus.
“Our counseling department, social-emotional specialist Ms. Aller and our resource officer [are some of the available resources],” he said.
Newbury also suggested that conversations on teen dating violence should start at home.
“Parents should be having conversations about knowing what to do, when it happens, and what to do when approached with the topic,” said Newbury.
To prevent teen dating violence, groups like PAC work together to educate their teen peers on this issue. Along with PAC, schools and communities must also work together to help keep teens safe.