Over 400 teens and their families were taught to “Expect More” in their personal relationships on March 14 at the sixth annual Teen Dating Violence Summit, hosted by the Partnership Against Domestic Violence in Duluth. The summit covered a topic that is sensitive to Georgia and its teens, and aimed to raise awareness and educate families about teen dating violence.
“We wanted to teach teens to recognize the signs of teen dating violence and be the voice of change,” said Daphne Walker, CEO of Partnership Against Domestic Violence. “This event encourages teens to interact with one another and their families. They learn what to do if they are in an unhealthy relationship as well as how to recognize the signs and help a friend.”
This conversation is an important one because Georgia is number three in the country for teen dating violence where one in three teens have experienced a form of abuse. The event focused on prevention and the promotion of healthy and respectful relationships. It promoted safe, healthy relationships through education, community engagement and empowerment.
The teen summit also hosted sessions for parents covering dating violence in the digital age and social justice.
Courtney Walker, 17, attended the summit and found herself learning more about what abuse is and how she can be a better peer.
“It’s easy to wonder how this applies to me as a teen,” she said. “But I learned that it’s not just about physical abuse. It is also about mental or emotional abuse. When I hear a friend being called stupid or something similar, I now know that it can affect them badly.”
In addition to the summit, the PADV hosts a Teen Dating Violence Prevention Program that works with schools, youth-serving organizations and churches across metro Atlanta to reduce relationship and sexual violence among teens and to promote healthy relationships.
Volunteers make these programs successful, and PADV looks for teen volunteers to support the staff with the Teen Dating Violence Prevention program by assisting in presentations and outreach to teens in and around the Atlanta area. The community can also help in other programs such as the crisis hotline or be a bilingual advocate. Organizations and groups can host supply drives, provide meals or help beautify the shelter.
Keynote speaker Kristin Paruginog, who is a teen dating violence survivor and founder of Breaking the Silence Against Domestic Violence, believed that with awareness and conversation, change is possible.
“It is about letting teens and parents know that the conversation has to happen, and it’s okay to have it, ” she said. “With an open dialogue, I think we can work to end domestic violence.”
PADV is the largest and one of the oldest domestic violence nonprofits in Georgia, and has helped over 18,000 women and children since its founding in 1975.
In other news: Subaru of America presented Must Ministries with a check for $7,139 to benefit the ongoing needs of people in the community struggling to make ends meet. The donation comes as a part of the car manufacturer’s Share the Love program which donates $250 for every new vehicle sold or leased from Nov. 21 through Jan. 2, up to $5 million total, and has donated nearly $20 million to charitable causes since the program’s inception four years ago.
Who’s doing good? Each Tuesday, we write about charity events such as fun-runs, volunteer projects and other community gatherings that benefit a good cause. To suggest an event for us to cover, contact Devika Rao at doing.goodAJC@gmail.com