February is the month of love. Flowers, chocolates, love letters, and stores are filled to the brim with all things red and pink. Sometimes, “love” does not only mean red and pink, but also black and blue. Even more unfortunate, is the young age that these unhealthy relationships and patterns can begin. Domestic violence is becoming an increasingly common issue for adolescents, with 1/3 of U.S. girls reported victims of some form of dating abuse.
Because of this shocking statistic and others like it, February is not only the month of love, but also the month of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention. February is a time to educate youth about dating violence- how to spot it, and stop it.
Break the Cycle (breakthecycle.org) is an organization committed to empowering youth to end the cycle of domestic violence. In 2010, Break the Cycle compiled a report of how each of the 50 United States and Washington DC’s Teen Dating Violence Laws measure up against each other. Kudos to California for being one of 7 states that was awarded a grade A! California earned that score for the rights and services it provides teen victims of dating abuse.
In California, minors (ages 12 and up) are able to obtain restraining orders (ROs) without assistance from a parent or guardian. CA also grants ROs in dating relationships, and does not just limit them to marriage (as they are limited in 8 other states). California minors also have access to many sexual health services, which are limited in other areas of the country.
In addition to these legal resources in California, there are many other resources available to teen victims of domestic violence. Contact Human Options for an educational domestic violence presentation at your local school, or contact Love is Respect – text loveis to 77054 to reach an advocate or visit their website (loveisrespect.org) to chat online. Please join Human Options in spreading the word about Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
To find more detailed information on the report cards and the legal opportunities, see this website- 2010 State Law Report Cards