Teen dating violence is something that is not talked about enough in schools, which could make it difficult for many students to determine what is right and wrong in relationships. In hopes of providing the proper resources for teen dating violence, Zonta and the Z club of Malden and the Mayor’s office hosted a Teen Dating Violence Awareness Night.
There was also a presentation by District Attorney Marian Ryan who spoke about the issues of domestic abuse in relationships whether it being physically, emotionally, verbally, and mentally. However, we, as a community, can do so much to talk about these strong topics that are avoided and need to be paid more attention to.
Domestic abuse is undoubtedly a difficult topic to even mention because as Ryan stated “no one goes out on a first date, with somebody they think is going to abuse them.” It can be challenging for anybody but it is even harder when you are young and starting to get yourself in a romantic relationship because you do not know what you are doing, you likely do not know what a strong and healthy relationship looks like.
These toxic relationships can be impactful and traumatizing especially when there is a type of abuse involved. Ryan explained that “[it is] incredibly important for adults to model a good relationship because kids copy what they see.” It is important for kids to see respect and genuine care in a relationship, and to know that if that is what lacks in a relationship then it is best to walk away for the safety of you.
When it comes to abusive relationships, it is just as important to teach people to be good bystanders. The media does not talk about healthy relationships enough, so when young and impressionable kids see toxic relationships on social media, they see it as something fun and thrilling and therefore can be a detriment to how they view relationships.
Teen dating violence is something that is not a new topic for adults but it is getting more serious especially with this pandemic it is difficult because now everything is online and you cannot see the people in-person.
Many people believe the rates of abuse have reduced, when in reality, Love is Respect, the National Domestic Violence Hotline reported that “their calls increased by 100.1% during the time [everyone has] been in lockdown.” Ryan explained. It goes to show that the abuse in these dreadful times has not stopped and continues to get worse because they are not being shown.
These issues also tie back to mental health itself, Karen Hayes, who is the former Community Outreach Director for the City of Malden and an attendee at the meeting, explained that “[she] really believes [they] need to be educating earlier than high school.”
Hayes wants to make changes and advocate for these issues, as she thinks it should be taught at the 4th to 5th grade level where it is easier for the kids. She added that in her opinion, there is not enough “funding and resources [being put towards the city’s] adjustment counselors, health classes, life skill classes.”
A significant amount of this important information needs to be and can be taught but unfortunately, some of those things are cut from the budget. Hayes believes “bringing the resources to the youth is the way to go.” Working into programs that talk about kinds of different mental health and to help young kids with these situations.
It can really benefit students because there needs to be a professional who talks about these kinds of topics, instead of pushing the responsibility on teachers we as a community need to do better and try to talk about these problems. “The more we normalize talking to professionals, therapists, and mental health workers the better off everyone else is going to be,” Hayes stated.
Teen dating violence and domestic abuse is a serious subject that can be heavy to speak on and should be a conversation to young teens that enter a relationship because education is the way to prevention.