February is the month which turns hearts to valentines and flowers. In some situations, it also can turn some to bruises, verbally lashing out and other means of violence.
According to author Joan Chittister, “We know that half of the planet – women – are routinely sneered at, demeaned, beaten, sexually abused, bought, sold, trafficked for sex or enslaved.” Sometimes, dating has proven the same.
Why bring this up in a month with a day dedicated to hearts, relationships, feelings of love and appreciation for significant others?
Besides the hearts and flowers, February is designated as National Teen Violence Awareness Month. If you want to know what goes on in society, one way is to note on the calendar days that are aimed at certain issues. We are finding that violence in teen dating has become an issue to be aware of and to work at eliminating.
The National Center for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly 1.5 million high school students in our nation have reported physical abuse in a dating relationship in just one year.
Talk to your children as they enter relationships and start the rite of passage we call “dating.” Healthy relationships occur when role models live such and when conversation with our youth explores the qualities of a healthy relationship.
If you need further resources for issues of dating violence or domestic violence, please know that Montgomery County Domestic Violence and Crime Victims Services, housed at Catholic Charities, 1 Kimball St., Amsterdam, is there for you. A hot line also is operative at 842-3384.
MARYANN DIGNAZIO LOUISON
Prevention educator, Catholic Charities of Fulton-Montgomery Counties