The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Centers (ECCAC) in Okaloosa and Walton counties have monthly prevention and awareness programs to help children, teens and families. February is National Teen Dating Violence Month. This is an issue that impacts everyone, not only teens, but their parents, teachers, friends and communities as well.
The alarming statistics show 1 in 3 adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. And, 1 in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend, with 80% of girls who have been physically abused continuing to date their abuser.
Teen dating violence abuse can occur in several ways – physical, emotional/verbal, sexual and/or stalking. Digital abuse is now being practiced using technology to bully, threaten or intimidate a partner with texting, social media, apps, tracking, and more.
Jasie Landeros, who heads up the prevention/awareness department as ECCAC’s Outreach Program Manager, commented, “This subject ties in well with ECCAC’s on-going Teen Safety Matters program that we do in-school, in grades 6 – 12, in Walton and Okaloosa schools. We can help make students aware of the ‘red flags’ in their partner that may indicate an unhealthy relationship, teen dating information, and what to do if they are in an abusive relationship. Information and resources can be found on-line at www.teendvmonth.org
ECCAC, in its 21st year of operation this year, operates centers in Niceville and DeFuniak Springs. They have provided over 150,000 services at no cost to more than 15,000 children experiencing abuse, abandonment or neglect to include mental health therapy, crisis intervention, referrals to other community providers, interviews and medicals.
For further information, visit www.eccac.org
, or email or call Jasie Landeros at Jasie@eccac.org
, 850-833-9237, Ext. 267. If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.