Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Power of Youth: Teen Dating Violence Awareness month

Welcome to our first post for our new theme on our Sunday slot: The Power of Youth. Today's subject matter is serious and my younger readers may either want a parent or older friend to read with him or her to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Violence in general is bad enough, and incredibly unnecessary. We are human beings with a higher level of thinking and intelligence where resolving issues among us, or trying to control another person, using violence is just simply inexcusable.  Especially when this violence is directed towards youth, who we are supposed to nurture, protect and teach to be better people.

I consider myself a person who is deeply rooted and connected to our young people because I've been there. I understand what it's like not to have that nurturing, protection or solid communication. I know what it's like to go through something so horrible, and not know who to trust or turn to. And I especially understand what it's like to be surrounded by anger and violence that I didn't feel I triggered or deserved, but, eventually, caved in to believe the opposite because I didn't know how to get rid of it or how to remove myself from it.

There is hope today that I didn't have growing up.

Now, in all fairness, I did have loving grandparents and an uncle who was more like my big brother. Yes, my grandparents often gave me a safe place to go to, and my uncle was always there to talk to whenever I needed it, but not one of them helped me get out of where I was. That's in the past. I don't blame any of them. I just use what I've gone through to reach out to others, even in a small way.

The time has come to make a difference. Our teens and youth need us more today than ever before. They need to know that violence is not acceptable on any level, because you don't necessarily have to hit someone else for a situation to be deemed 'violent'. It isn't always something you can physically see. Trust me when I say you can do more damage with words, threats and manipulation than with your fists because words stick with you long after bruises heal.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, and it is so important to acknowledge and support this cause. A tremendous amount of violence occurs between young couples and youth needs to be armed with knowledge to have the self-esteem, self-confidence and strength not only to make sure it doesn't happen, but also to have the courage and resources to turn to when stopping it in its tracks.

Break the Cycle is an amazing resource tool all youth, teens and caregivers of youth/teens should keep in their Bookmark section. They have links to other resources, a Hotline with advocate teens as well as a way to connect via text, if that's more comfortable. This is a 24/7 phone or text connection as these things can happen, or the feelings involved can surface, at any time. Never be afraid to reach out.

Let's all work together to stop this from continuing. Pay attention, give information (but don't overwhelm or overpower...only go as far as what is needed at the time), listen but, as I said, most there.

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