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The truth about dating abuse

Dear Editor:

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. According to a 2009 survey sponsored by Liz Claiborne Inc., nearly one in three teens who have been in a dating relationship have experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse or threats of physical harm.

Even more alarming is the growing epidemic of digital dating abuse. Digital abuse – including “sexting,” cyber-bullying and using cell phones and online communication to harass and control partners – is on the rise. According to a 2009 study from MTV and The Associated Press, 50 percent of 14- to 24-year-olds have been the target of some form of digital abuse.

I am a Colorado State Action leader for MADE: (Moms and Dads for Education) to Stop Teen Dating Abuse. MADE is a nationwide coalition of parents, teachers and concerned citizens working to ensure that every middle school and high school is teaching about teen dating violence and abuse. Teen dating abuse curricula are easily accessible, such as the Love Is Not Abuse teen dating violence curriculum, which is free of charge and has been expanded to include a section specifically on combating digital dating abuse.

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On Feb. 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Liz Claiborne Inc. are launching the first online training, Dating Matters: Understanding Teen Dating Violence Prevention, to provide educators resources to help teach this difficult, yet essential, subject in schools. Dating Matters will also be offered at no cost and offers an opportunity for every school to promote healthy relationships.

We all have a responsibility to ensure our young people are educated about teen dating violence and abuse. As a MADE Colorado State Action leader, I am urging middle and high schools in our state to incorporate these life-saving lessons and empower our youth. Everyone can do their part to end teen dating violence and abuse by joining the MADE coalition. Visit http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/made to learn more.

Eileen Bradley

Basalt


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