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February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month. Young people who experience dating violence are at a higher risk of substance abuse, depression, poor academic performance and future victimization. For the fourth consecutive year, organizations like Middle Way House in Bloomington, have reached out to teenagers to help them find the tools to build healthy relationships. Rene Llewellyn is a representative from Middle Way House.
“This month is set aside for discussion to try to encourage parents to talk to the teens, encourage educators, teachers to hold discussions on the topic,” says Llewellyn.
Llewellyn says Middle Way House has reached out to local teenagers in a variety of ways, from sending specialists to discuss the topic at schools to organizing meetings in the public library. She says that although culture, society and education play a role, the key to teaching health relationships lies at home, within the family. According to Llewellyn, parents should strive to be aware that sexual education is something that should not be ignored.
“An avoidance of the topic altogether can sometimes lead to the belief that an abusive relationship is a normal relationship,” Llewellyn also stated.
Llewellen says those parents who might be concerned about their childrens’ relationships can find advice from the US Department Health and Human Services website. As part of the activities organized my Middle Way House, a series of banners have been displayed around Bloomington. The banners convey messages proposed by teenagers. Llewellen says the banners were put together during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day activity.
“Our prevention team recruited over 40 teenagers.” She also says that the teens designed which messages should be put on the banners.
The banners were designed under the guidance of local artist Merridee LaMantia. They will be up until the first of March.