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April 1, 2019 (Arkansa) — Last week, another highly publicized school shooting — this one in Arkansas — served as a grisly anniversary card for last year’s bloodbath at Colorado’s Columbine High School. At “Million Mom March,” an estimated 750,000 mothers converged on Washington to demand that Congress pass tougher gun control laws to prevent more of these killing sprees.
Even though statistics show youth violence has actually been decreasing in the U.S. for the last several years, intensive media coverage of events like these has focused public attention on the issue, says Paul J. Fink, MD, speaking at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) here.
But because all the attention does little do address the real issues behind youth violence, he says, organizations like the APA are taking notice of the problem.”Youth violence is a complex issue [we] must attend to until the problem is totally eliminated,” says Fink, a professor of psychiatry at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, a past president of the APA, and the chair of the APA’s Psychiatric Aspects of Violence task force.
A big piece of the puzzle will be to find out which children are most likely to be violent, says Marvin S. Swartz, MD, who heads the division of social and community psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
Teen Dating Violence Spotlighted
A new public awareness campaign created to raise awareness about teen dating violence has been launched by the Governor’s office. The campaign, which is entitled “If It Doesn’t Feel Right, It Probably Isn’t,” is being sponsored by the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) and features three radio public service announcements, mall kiosk displays and school mailings.
The campaign began in early September and will continue through Domestic Violence Awareness month in October. Some of the concepts for the campaign and artwork for the posters were selected during a Teen Dating Violence and Healthy Relationships Media Contest. Last fall, announcements were sent to all high school art, health, music and technology teachers in New York State.
Students in grades 9-12 were invited to submit posters, songs and music videos that could be used to raise awareness about the seriousness of teen dating violence. “This campaign will serve as a powerful platform to raise awareness about teen dating violence and will let all of New York’s teens know that there are resources available to help if they are suffering from abuse,” Gov. Pataki said.
“I hope that by heightening awareness we will be able to continue to combat all types of domestic violence and ensure that our children know what it means to be an equal and valued partner in their relationships.” “I also want to commend the more than 180 students that participated in the Teen Dating Violence and Healthy Relationships Media Contest, and once again congratulate those whose artwork and ideas were selected for this campaign. Your ideas and expressions are making a difference for countless teens across this State,” the Governor added.
Teen violence in dating relationships
Teens in dating relationships are often inexperienced and may be unclear about when dating behaviors cross the line and become abusive. For example, extreme jealousy can often be misinterpreted as love and attentiveness, rather than power and control. In a survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that out of the more than 4,000 9th through 12th graders questioned, approximately 1 in 5 female students reported being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
And, the US Department of Justice has found that females between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest per capita rates of domestic violence. Sherry Frohman, Executive Director of the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence said, “Domestic violence in teen dating relationships must be taken seriously. We must hold offenders accountable and provide services for victims, regardless of their age. As a community, it is our responsibility to support youth and give the clear message that domestic violence will not be tolerated in New York State.”
Each component of the campaign has been geared towards reaching teens and highlighting the message that abuse isn’t always physical. The radio spots, which will air with the cooperation of the New York State Broadcasters Association, have been written as testimonials and describe the forms of abuse common in adolescent dating violence. Two spots are from the viewpoint of teens and one is from the viewpoint of a mother who notices a change in her daughter. The kiosk signs will be posted in 16 malls across the state and feature a female teen with a UPC barcode across her forehead.
The heading reads: “You are not his property.” In addition, OPDV will be partnering with schools and distributing a free informational package to all the high schools in New York State. The package will include copies of Kristin Colasonno’s winning poster from the Teen Dating Violence and Healthy Relationships Media Contest.
A recent graduate of Ward Melville High School in Stony Brook, Ms. Colasonno’s poster features the face of a girl leaning sadly against a mirror, her reflection showing a black eye and bruises with a headline that reads: “All the makeup in the world can’t change what he does,” along with the sobering statistic that “1 in 5 teenagers is affected by teen dating violence.”