Eleven years ago, February was declared National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month by President Barack Obama, who called for a concerted effort to “come together to break the cycle of violence that burdens too many of our sons and daughters.” The statistics that led to this recognition month are disturbing: relationship violence begin as early as age 12, and one in ten adolescents report being the victim of physical violence from an intimate partner during the prior year. Before they reach adulthood, one in three U.S. teens will experience a form of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from someone with whom they have a relationship. Those who experience violence in their youth are more likely to be victims or perpetrators in adulthood, continuing the generational cycle of violence.
These statistic are crushing to read, and devastating to the lives they represent. Which is why Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is needed to generate awareness and action to break the cycles of violence. And it is why Urban Resource Institute is focused on prevention and intervention of intimate partner violence at every life stage.
URI is proud to deliver the Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP) and Early RAPP to high school and middle school students, teaching them about healthy relationships among their peers, friends, and family, too. These programs can reach up to 40,000 students in a year, and did not miss a beat during the pandemic, pivoting to virtual platforms. While our domestic violence shelter and services provide safety and healing to survivors of domestic abuse, we also have the goal to stop abuse before it starts through comprehensive school-based programs that reach students through a variety of creative means, led by trained social workers and peer educators.
We invite you to learn more about RAPP and Early RAPP on our website, and to read the OpEd by our Senior Director of Prevention Services, Luis Matos, published last fall.
In solidarity and commitment to a future without violence and trauma,
Nathaniel M. Fields
Urban Resource Institute