Wednesday, February 12, 2014

From a whisper to a roar

Teens flush issue of dating violence out into the open

Express Staff Writer

Every Teen Has a Choice, or ETC, youth interns (L to R) Ben Brunelle, Jackie Schultz and Zac Swanson are making a statement about ending violence among their dating peers without saying a word. The community is encouraged to wear the color orange on Feb. 21 in support of healthy teen relationships.
Courtesy photos by Kat Smith

   "Don’t you know, they’re talking about a revolution, it sounds like a whisper.” In those lyrics, musician Tracy Chapman was singing about the poor getting their share, but in our community, it’s the youth who are talking about change. And for the month of February, it is a conversation aimed at bringing dating violence under the spotlight.
    As part of a statewide initiative, a group of local teens, with the help of The Advocates for Survivors Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, have accepted the “Our Revolution” challenge, a campaign developed for teens by teens with messages about building healthy, compassionate, peaceful relationships, both personally and community-wide.
    The teens, operating under the organization title Every Teen Has a Choice, are from grades 9-12. They are paid interns in partnership with The Advocates and St. Luke’s Center for Community Health, funded with a grant from Wood River Woman’s Charitable Trust Foundation. Coordinator Heidi Cook said all candidates were interviewed before being accepted. There are currently two open positions, if any youth is interested in joining the program.
    It seems teens are well aware of the need. U.S. Senator Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, recently cited statistics showing one in five teens say their friends are victims of dating violence.
    But, according to the Idaho Department of Education’s Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey, since awareness-raising efforts were stepped up in the last five years, the rate of reported instances of violence has declined.
    To keep the conversation going, The Advocates and participating student interns have arranged a series of events, including a Winter Wonderland-themed school dance on Valentine’s Day, Friday, Feb. 14, from 9:30-11:30 p.m. at Wood River High School. Tickets are $8 at the door. All area students are invited—just bring school identification.
    On Feb. 21, the community is encouraged to wear orange to build support for healthy teen relationships. Then, on Feb. 22, celebrate at The Dollhouse in Hailey between 1-3 p.m. with music, activities and guest speaker Lara Spencer.
    As part of the statewide challenge, local schools and individual teens are invited to submit a photo to the #OurRevolution Instagram challenge. Students can submit a photo or video capturing either their vision for a compassionate community or a single revolutionary act and can win up to $500.
    Amanda Nagy will take a group photo during the event at the Dollhouse for a contest submission.    
    For more information, contact The Advocates at 788-4191 or visit

What if?
If you have a friend who is being abused, you can help. Listen to and support your friend and don’t place any blame on him or her. Encourage your friend to seek help and find an adult to talk to or call The Advocates’ 24-hour hotline—788-6070 or toll free at (888) 676-0066—or the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at (866) 331-9474.

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