PA gov’t needs to do more to protect teens from dating violence

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, March 4th, 2020 at 11:09 PM
PA gov’t needs to do more to protect teens from dating violence by Rhiannon Pushchak
The PA government is attempting to expand education on dating violence. | File Photo

Dating violence is something that is unfortunately all too common. It’s an issue in Pennsylvania, as it is across the globe. 

In state, and according to statistics from papost.org, nearly 130 people killed within the last year were victims of domestic violence. Of these victims, more than half were killed by gunshot. An even bigger 70% of victims were women and another 70% were murdered by a significant other, either current or former. 

Pennsylvania is making strides to get this number to zero. 

At a conference held in Harrisburg on Feb. 18, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine recommended that dating violence among teenagers should be reported, and that the consequences that come with being in an abusive relationship need to be addressed in state high schools.

“Teen dating violence is very common and affects millions of teens in the United States each year,” said Levine. “It is essential that we talk about the impacts of dating violence among youth and continue to promote healthy relationship behaviors to ensure the safety of all residents.” 

The Pennsylvania government website (pa.gov) posted an article later that day stating that this does not just mean physical problems, but that these issues can cause extensive damage to a teen’s mental health (often times with permanent effects). 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that high school-age victims of dating violence are more likely to be involved in other forms of violence later in life. The CDC also says that these victims are more susceptible to developing anxiety disorders, depression, other mental health illnesses, or developing drug and alcohol addictions. 

An article from the PA Department of Health mentioned that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf set forth grants totaling $1 million, called “It’s On Us PA” awards, for various colleges and universities and split among the schools to help the fight to end dating violence. 

“Every student, teacher, administrator, and visitor to our campuses deserves a safe environment free from harassment,” said Wolf on Jan. 16 in a press release on pa.gov. There are model policy forms online at education.pa.gov, as well as a student complaint form that can be downloaded and utilized by the public.

It is a very important thing for our community to try to prevent dating violence. In just my social circle alone, more than half of my friends have experienced dating misconduct in some way, and I think that’s unacceptable. We, as human beings, should protect ourselves and one another from these situations and punish the offenders. 

Violence is never the answer when it comes to people claiming to love each other. There are too many people out there damaged for the rest of their lives because their partner hurt them so badly that they don’t know how to cope. 

If you are experiencing a crisis as a result of dating violence and are having thoughts involving suicide, or if you know someone that is, you are encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), or text PA to 741-741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. Both services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Let’s make it a point to eliminate dating violence not just in Pennsylvania, but in the world.  

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