Statistics show one in three adolescents in the United States is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
That figure far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence, according to loveisrespect.org.
This is why teens at schools around Jackson County involved in Turning Point Domestic Violence Services’ Teens for Change are working hard to educate their peers on the existence of teen dating violence and the importance of healthy relationships in life.
Each February, Teens for Change displays the HeArt Show in the lobby of the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour.
The art contest is open to students in grades 6 to 12 to raise awareness surrounding domestic and dating violence.
They are encouraged to make art that represents what healthy relationships mean to them. Posters from class contests, poetry, paintings, drawings, photography, sculptures and more can be submitted with a brief statement describing the artist’s intention or meaning behind the piece.
Suggested ideas include what it looks like to be a good friend, how you are kind to other people, how you help people and how you handle feelings like anger, jealousy and being sad in a positive way.
Art went up at the beginning of the month and will be on display through Friday. There are Safe Dates posters and Heart Stories created by students at Brownstown Central Middle School, Crothersville Junior-Senior High School and Seymour Middle School along with members of Teens for Change and the Boys & Girls Club of Seymour.
Three judges have been selected to choose a winner for kindergarten through fifth grade, sixth through 12th grades, the Boys & Girls Club, Heart Stories and Safe Dates.
“The real artwork is done in the classrooms after students have learned about healthy and unhealthy relationships,” said Charlotte Moss, community services director for Turning Point in Jackson County. “I have been very impressed with several of the art pieces this year due to the depth of their topic and the detail of their work.”
Moss said the HeArt Show originated in Columbus and consisted of several types of art pieces being entered.
“We wanted to do something similar that highlighted the poster contest in Safe Dates and any young artist that wanted to submit their work,” she said. “The Teens for Change group has the task of representing the show at their schools and encouraging students to participate. They do the planning of who they would like as judges and help with a list of places they would like to ask about donating prizes for the winners.”
Senior Kaylynn Linville and sophomore Keira Linville are members of Teens for Change at Seymour High School. Both said it’s important to do the HeArt Show each year.
“I think what’s really important is to show that even the younger generation knows what a healthy relationship is like and that there are problems,” Kaylynn said.
“I hope when people look at these that if they are people in bad situations, they can realize how bad the situation is,” Keira said. “Some of the posters, they have phone numbers to call and information to get help, so I hope it just brings awareness to the community for people who need it.”
They agreed it’s good for youth to have art as an outlet to express themselves and a message.
“I definitely think that’s nice that kids get to show themselves through art. I feel like it gives them motivation to talk about this more of being an issue,” Kaylynn said.
“I feel like art is a good way to communicate things, and seeing what the kids are feeling and being able to relate to that, that connection there is really good,” Keira said.
Looking at the display in the library lobby, the Linvilles are glad to see a lot of involvement from youth around the county.
“I feel like they are really good. A lot of times, what they put on there is really truthful, and it shows a good message. It shows real-life scenarios what happened,” Kaylynn said.
“The way that they can express themselves is really nice to see how other people have different aspects on things and they are all right,” Keira said. “They did really good.”
‘Be About It’
Turning Point is recognizing February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.
This year’s theme, “Be About It,” calls on us all to create a world free from interpersonal violence by offering young people support, resources and healthy relationship education.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds about 16 million women and 11 million men who reported experiencing abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime said they first experienced these forms of violence before the age of 18.
Teen dating violence occurs between two people in a close relationship, and it can include various forms of abuse, including emotional, physical, psychological and sexual abuse as well as stalking.
Youth from groups that have been marginalized, such as sexual and gender minority youth, are at greater risk of experiencing sexual and physical dating violence. However, studies show violence is preventable using classroom community-based approaches that teach skills and promote expectations for healthy, nonviolent relationships.
In 2022, Turning Point provided 938 primary prevention presentations to 5,320 community youth.
As part of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, Turning Point encouraged community members to participate in Wear Orange Day on Feb. 7 to show solidarity in standing together against dating abuse.
The agency encourages the community to post their support on social media and tag @TPDomesticViolenceServices or to utilize the campaign to initiate important conversations with youth and other community members.
Additionally, the Turning Point Prevention Team will use this month to engage teens in meaningful conversations about healthy relationships alongside regular prevention programming provided to middle and high school students throughout the area.
For additional resources and information about healthy dating relationships, visit turningpointdv.org.
At a glance
Teens for Change is a teen-initiated dating violence prevention group dedicated to the prevention, awareness and education of dating violence in the community and to promote safety and equality to teens in all relationships.
The mission is to work toward the prevention and elimination of domestic and dating violence, the vision is a world free of violence and the core values are change, equity, integrity, relationships, respect and safety.
For information, visit facebook.com/t4cjackson or twitter.com/tpjacksoncounty or find the group on Instagram: Teens4Change.
The group is associated with Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, an agency serving survivors of interpersonal violence in Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson, Johnson and Shelby counties. Based in Columbus, the agency seeks to prevent and eliminate domestic and dating violence.
A 24-hour helpline is available by calling 800-221-6311.
For information about Turning Point in Jackson County, visit facebook.com/tpdvjackson or contact Charlotte Moss at 812-657-4163 or [email protected]