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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

GOVERNOR Ralph D.L.G. Torres on Tuesday signed a proclamation at Marianas High School designating February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

In signing the proclamation, the governor told teenagers: “It is important that you know the signs of teen-dating violence — both emotional and physical — and that you speak up. You are in a relationship and you are supposed to love each other, respect each other. You shouldn’t be forced to stay in a relationship when there is no longer love and respect. If you feel emotionally abused or physically abused you should speak up, get help or leave the relationship.”

The governor said it was the first time they held a proclamation signing ceremony at a school so students could witness the event.

According to Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence executive director Maisie B. Tenorio, teen-dating violence is a global issue.

“Teens and children are at risk for violence and abuse. As adults, it is our job to ensure that they have a safe environment to grow up in. We are teaching them healthy choices and we are empowering them to make those choices and to speak up when they need help. We will provide that help when they need it.”

According to the proclamation, “Teen-dating violence is a pattern of behaviors involving the use or attempted use of physical, sexual, verbal and emotional, economic, technological or other abusive behavior by a person to harm, threaten, intimidate, harass, coerce, control, isolate, restrain, or monitor another person with whom they have or have had a dating relationship.”

MHS principal Cherlyn Cabrera said there is teen-dating violence on island.

“But we don’t know how many of our students are affected. Usually we find out when we have a discussion with them. When it comes up, we deal with it.”

She believes that “a lot of it is still hidden, which is why this proclamation is important so we can start talking about it. Counselors and teachers can also have discussions in class regarding healthy relationships.”

She added, “That is the beginning. I am hopeful that through this campaign, we will find out about more so we can help those who need it.”

During the proclamation signing ceremony, student leaders spoke about teen-dating violence.

For Grace Choi, it is “the pink elephant in the room — an issue not spoken about enough, but we believe that this is a taboo subject that definitely should be broken.”

According to John Mendoza, teen-dating violence is not just physically harming one’s partner. “Other ways involve emotional and verbal assault. A toxic partner may attempt to control you or may make you feel weak. They may even threaten to hurt themselves if you don’t listen to them. It is important for you and your partner to individually grow. You should never have to hide the bruise that your partner caused. Everyone must understand the meaning of ‘no’ and ‘stop.’ ”

Amea Reyes told her fellow students that “there is more to your youth than being in the grasp of someone who is hurting you.” She said their job is “to give light to someone and to take them out of the darkness that they are in.”

Miguel Aninon said teen-dating violence is being in a relationship that prevents one from living life to the fullest. It is not a healthy relationship, he added.

Ryan Relucio advised his fellow students to leave relationships if they become toxic.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/101891-february-is-teen-dating-violence-awareness-month

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