Breaking the Cycle of Teen Dating Violence through Leadership - Human Options

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The month of February was recognized as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month. This was a busy month for Human Options’ community educators as they traveled throughout Orange County to different schools, businesses and groups providing compelling teen dating violence presentations and workshops. They provided over 20 presentations, reaching approximately 674 students, faculty, and community members. The community educators focused on teaching middle and high school students, educators, and parents how to be social leaders through what is called the “Bystander Approach.” They sought to empower the most influential and involved students through their LAB workshop (Leaders as Active Bystanders). This one-of-a-kind workshop empowered over 100 Irvine High School football players, cheerleaders, and student body leaders on how to confront abusive peers and set good examples for fellow students and younger generations. Creating this new standard for socializing and behaving creates happier relationships and brighter futures for all students. If we continue to empower young people to be upstanding citizens, we will see the cycle of domestic violence and its horrific statistics begin to decline.

The Costa Mesa Family Resource Center (CMFRC) also held its first annual Love Shouldn’t Hurt: Parent and Teen Conference on February 27th that involved over 80 parents and their teens in the journey to building and living healthy relationships. Since parents are generally the first role models their children look to for how relationships should be, parents have an especially crucial and influential role to play. This conference allowed open communication in families about teen dating violence, creating new channels of conversation between parents and teens that may have never before been discussed. Parents were urged to be leaders in their families by modeling healthy relationships, and were taught skills in intervening, should they ever suspect teen dating violence occurring in their home or the home of peers.  One participant at the Parent-Teen conference said, “It was great to see so many parents that care about their children learning to develop healthy relationships. By touching one life, we are probably saving many more lives in the future.”

The Men in Motion campaign, a campaign held for Human Options’ Men in Motion support group, raised funds to support prevention education in Orange County. These crucial funds are what allowed our educators to reach so many people in such a short amount of time in order to raise the proper awareness that teen dating violence deserves. The group of men is comprised of many local business and community leaders who choose to stand up to domestic violence and lend their unique voice on the issue. 96 men participated in the Men in Motion campaign and raised over $60,000, indicating how crucial prevention education is and how effective our local leaders can be in combating this vicious cycle.

Human Options’ community educators strive to instill in everyone that, although teen dating violence may be an uncomfortable subject to talk about, doing whatever you feel comfortable doing to spread awareness is a great start. Whether it’s speaking up about teen dating violence, providing proper resources, or setting positive examples and relationship boundaries, you are a part of the solution that will significantly and positively affect our community’s future.