It’s always an awkward conversation. After we’ve played some games, talked about what they want in a dating relationship, done a bit of role-playing, we get down to the nitty gritty.
Sexual assault. Violence. Rape.
Some of the students avert their eyes. Others giggle nervously. A few show concern, even ask questions.
I talk to high school kids about teen dating violence because they already know it’s happening. They see it among their friends, maybe fear it could happen in their own dating relationships. And they need to know how to stop it before it becomes their reality, their life.
As I write this, I’m preparing to spend four days in another high school health class as the guest speaker from our local domestic violence agency. It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the three county schools have opened their doors for our presentation.
For this group of students, there’s new information on the table. They’ve probably already seen it on the evening news or on the internet:
A candidate for the most powerful job in the world has been exposed as a perpetrator of sexual assault.
He did it just because he could. Because he’s rich and famous. And because he doesn’t value a woman’s right to say who can touch her body and when.
By the time we’ve finished talking about teen dating violence, rape, sexual assault, the students will know that if they had done what he has admitted to doing, they could wind up in jail with a felony conviction that would follow them the rest of their lives.
They’ll also know this:
- 12 percent of high school students report having been physically victimized by a dating partner in the past year
- 25 percent of high school students say they have been psychologically abused by a dating partner
- Dating abuse begins as early as sixth grade
- Adults who abuse their dating partners often do so during adolescence
- Young women ages 14-17 represent 38 percent of those victimized by date rape
- Any unwanted sexual contact is assault
- Perpetrators of sexual assault and violence do it to gain control over their victims
We’ll have the awkward conversation because just maybe their awareness will mean they won’t have to know what it’s like to be a victim.
For more information about domestic violence and teen dating violence, visit one of these web sites: