Text messaging is a medium embraced fully by teens, so what better way for them to spread the word about dating violence?
About 100 students at Coronado High School engaged in a “textathon” Thursday morning, in an effort to raise awareness of this problem.
Brittany Tietz, a junior, already was aware — the hard way, unfortunately.
“He wasn’t beating me, but calling me names,” said Tietz, 16. “Like, S-L-U-T.”
In receiving that verbal cruelty, Tietz became a statistic. Studies show that at least one in five teens will be in a relationship marked by abuse, either physical or emotional.
“We need to deal with this issue,” Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross told the teens, “and we need your help.”
But a problem enlisting young adults in fighting dating violence is that many don’t know what behavior from a partner is inappropriate, according to a social worker at the school.
“We do a lot of work on what is a healthy relationship,” Katie Kunitzer said. “We tell students, 'If it feels like it’s not supposed to be this way, it’s probably wrong.’”
Abuse, said a student, can be as simple as monopolizing one’s time.
“When a person wants to control you, they take away your friends and your family because they want to be the only one in your life,” senior Leshay Relf said.
The causes of dating violence are myriad. Kunitzer said some students come from abusive families.
“That’s been the model they’ve seen,” Kunitzer said.
Curion Moore, a senior from Tempe, said drugs are to blame for teens losing control, and so is anger at one’s family.
Another difficulty is getting abused teens to seek help, and that was the point of the event.
The students, wielding their cell phones, were directed to send this message to three friends: “Speak out and be heard — Weboffriends.org”
That Web site, a clearinghouse for dating violence resources, is run by the Maricopa Association of Governments.