Community Issues

Crisis Center North Offers Programming to Stop Teen Dating Violence

"We need to get this information into schools." Prevention education is critical to stopping potential abuse and teen dating violence.

If you're shocked by troubling statistics about teen dating violence, know that you're not alone. "I was a guidance counselor for 30 years and never realized this was happening in schools," Leon Strimel said. "Nobody realized it was happening." Strimel now works as the Prevention Educator for Crisis Center North , where he regularly speaks to students in Allegheny County.

The study, which was originally published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that more than 25 percent of girls will experience physical violence, sexual violence or stalking by the time they reach 18 . Additionally, girls made up 90 percent of the victims of homicides of young people by a romantic partner.

"We're trying to get this information into schools," Strimel said, so that students can recognize the signs of abuse and identify if they or one of their peers is in an unhealthy relationship. Strimel says CCN has developed programming for students in fifth grade through high school.

"It starts with developing a healthy relationship with yourself, because before you can like someone else you have to like yourself," Strimel said.

Strimel says that not only do people struggle to identify abuse from the outside looking in, but often victims don't realize that they are in an unhealthy relationship. Older students learn how to spot the warning signs of abuse, which often involve controlling behavior.

"One person is trying to have more control than the other. That's when abuse occurs," Strimel explains. He says that in extreme cases, this can lead to physical violence.

Crisis Center North offers programming that helps students recognize the potential signs of abuse and gives them the tools to take action.

Simply being aware of the problem of dating violence is crucial. Grace Coleman, the Executive Director at CCN, says that people are often blinded by "optimism bias," or a belief that "that sort of thing doesn't happen" in their community or school.

Once students can recognize potential abuse, they need to be armed with the tools to stop it. Strimel says this includes direct and indirect intervention, and reporting it to a counselor or teacher.

If you are interested in bringing Crisis Center North's programming to your school district or other group, you can click here or contact Strimel at . CCN also has additional resources available online.

If you or a loved one are in an unhealthy or violent relationship, you can click here or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233 . If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

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