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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

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LIEUTENANT Gov. Arnold I. Palacios on Tuesday signed a proclamation designating February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, 2nd right, on Tuesday signed a proclamation designating February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Also in photo are Saipan Southern High School teacher and Board of Education teacher representative Paul Miura, left, Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Executive Director Maisie Tenorio, 2nd left, and SSHS principal Vince Dela Cruz, right.  Contributed photo

The proclamation ceremony was held in the Saipan Southern High School cafeteria.

In an interview, Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Executive Director Maisie Tenorio said awareness is an important factor in combating teen dating violence. “The teens we talked to recently shared that many of their peers do not realize they are in abusive relationships. Educated teens will help their peers who need it because…teens will more likely reach out to each other for help.”

Teen dating violence is considered an underreported crime in the community, the proclamation stated.

“Approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. In addition, girls and young women aged 16 to 24 are more vulnerable and experience dating violence at a rate triple the national average,” the proclamation added.

Teen dating violence is defined as a pattern of behaviors involving the use or attempted use of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, economic, technological or other abusive behaviors by a person to harm, threaten, intimidate, harass, coerce, control, isolate, restrain, or monitor another person with whom they have or have had a dating relationship.

Tenorio said a teen is in an abusive relationship when there is “extreme jealousy or possessiveness, monitoring their activities (checking the phone or tracking their whereabouts), not ‘allowing’ the partner to go places or hang out with certain people, belittling or insulting, physical attacks or threats of physical attacks, threatening to kill oneself if partner leaves.”

Lt. Governor Palacios encourages community members to raise awareness about abuse in teen relationships and promote programs that can prevent it.

“As adult allies we have a duty not to ignore it,” he added. “It is crucial that we work to raise awareness and empower teens with tools to help themselves and their peers in abusive relationships.”

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