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Unfortunately, dating violence is more common than many people think. Studies show one in three high school students experience either physical or sexual violence, or both, that is perpetrated by someone they are dating or going out with. 1 During February’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, Safenet Services, Inc is working to prevent dating abuse with its campaign #DateSmart.

“Dating violence is preventable especially if education about healthy relationships starts early,” said Donna Grabow, Executive Director. “This month and beyond we want educators, parents and community leaders along with middle, high school and college students, to engage and promote messages about dating violence prevention and raise awareness of what a healthy relationship looks like.”

Data shows that interpersonal violence is experienced by nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide each year2 and nearly half (43%) of all college women and one third (28%) of college men report having experienced either abuse or controlling behaviors in a dating relationship. 3 Furthermore, those affected are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol if they do not receive the appropriate support from their loved ones and community.

There is hope though and progress has been made in Rogers and Mayes Counties. Kasi VanSandt, the Socio-Ecological Specialist “SEM Specialist” has been visiting junior highs, high schools, and Rogers State University teaching students about healthy dating, healthy boundaries, and what is not acceptable in relationships. “As the SEM Specialist, it is my mission to keep the teens and young adults as safe as possible. One student even told me, ‘It helped me realize that I was not starting a good relationship with someone and I was able to stop it before it got really bad.’ says VanSandt.

Safenet is launching a Teen Dating Violence Awareness Campaign titled “#DateSmart” in order to raise more awareness in the high schools of Mayes and Rogers Counties. The campaign will run the entire month of February and offers a $25 gift card for the winner. All students have to do is follow Safenet’s Instagram (@SafenetServicesInc) or Facebook and post a picture tagging Safenet and using #DateSmart in order to be entered to win. Winner will be contacted on March 4th.

Throughout the month, participate in Safenet Services’ Healthy Relationships Instagram polls, and don’t forget Wear Orange for Love Day on February 12th.

Also available is Huddle Up for Healthy Relationships Toolkit on loveisrespect.org. loveisrespect is a project of The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Its purpose is to engage, educate and empower young people to prevent and end abusive relationships. The organization provides information and support to concerned friends and family members, teachers, counselors, service providers and members of law enforcement. Free and confidential phone, live chat and texting services are also available around the clock. Advocates provide support through online chat at loveisrespect.org, text (send loveis to 22522*) or phone, 1-866-331-9474.

Mark your calendar for these key dates and activities:

  • Feb. 1: Safenet Services’ #DateSmart campaign begins. Follow Safenet Services on Instagram or Facebook, post a picture with #DateSmart and be entered to win a $25 gift card.
  • Feb. 12: Wear #orange4love today and share on social media a statement that you take a stand against abuse and support healthy relationships.
  • Mar. 4: Safenet Services’ #DateSmart campaign ends and winner is randomly selected and notified for $25 gift card.

1 Vagi, K.J., Olsen, E.O.M., Basile, K.C., & Vivolo-Kantor, A.M. (2015).  Teen dating violence (physical and sexual) among US high school students: findings from the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.  JAMA Pediatrics, 169 (5), 474-482.

2   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Physical Dating Violence among High School Students—United States, 2003,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, May 19, 2006, Vol. 55, No. 19.

3 https://www.loveisrespect.org/pdf/College_Dating_And_Abuse_Final_Study.pdf