LIVINGSTON, NJ — One in three teens in a dating relationship experiences abuse from their partner, according to a press release from the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women. As one student described, “I never forgot my high school boyfriend after graduation. He haunted me in nightmares even after I moved away and changed my name. I would wake up with the memory of the abuse he inflicted on me, fresh on my mind.”
Abuse knows no boundaries — it can happen to anyone, anywhere. It is happening right here in our community. There are more than 10,000 cases of teen dating abuse reported in New Jersey every year. This shocking statistic is part of the reason that “safe dating” education is now required by law throughout the country.
Congress has designated February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. The Teen Dating Abuse Awareness Project of the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women has created an initiative that works with high schools throughout Essex County and supplies them with materials and ideas to bring this awareness program to the student body of their school during February. The central message is that “Love Shouldn’t Hurt!” Crisis counselors or teachers oversee students who use the TDAA materials to educate and engage their classmates at all grade levels.
The TDAA Project was created by NCJW/Essex in 1992 in response to the reality that teens, as well as adults, are involved in abusive relationships. Throughout the school year trained TDAA volunteers facilitate ninth-grade classroom presentations free of charge that include an interactive experience. Teens learn how to recognize the signs of abuse in dating relationships so that they may date safely. Workshops for parents and educators are also available.
For information about how to have a TDAA presentation in your school, for your parent group, or if you have an interest in becoming a TDAA volunteer, call the NCJW/Essex Center for Women at 973-740-0588 or visit https://ncjwessex.org/center-for-women/teen-dating-abuse for more information.