ugg deals dating violence part of landscape
The teens heard songs and public service announcements and did role playing exercises about how to identify, prevent and stop dating violence. They correctly answered questions posed by prosecutors from the Montgomery state’s attorney’s office, which has put on the conference four years in a row. They learned about restraining orders, controlling behavior and cyber stalking.
But still, after all that, those girls thought Rihanna somehow deserved to be beaten. It made me despondent.
Dating violence has always been a problem. And despite outreach, better laws and smarter cops who know what to look for, technology has made it easier than ever for abusers to reach their victims.
In a study published last month in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, researchers said that more than 25 percent of teens said they had been threatened or harassed online or through texts.
Technology gives controlling abusers a 24 hour way to reach out and digitally grab their victims, without any adult seeing the dangerous dynamic of a relationship. Texting is like training wheels for stalkers.
In other words, this is a parent’s nightmare.
More than half of the kids in the study said they had experienced physical abuse, from scratching to choking. And one third said that they had been sexually coerced.
“It’s a whole new world out there. Nothing like what I had,” said one mother who brought her daughter to the conference.
Throughout the day, kids were reminded of the tragic story of Yeardley Love, the pretty blonde University of Virginia lacrosse player who was killed by her jealous,
drunken, jock boyfriend, George Huguely. He is now in prison.
In person, they looked perfect. But some of their most vicious fighting took place online, hidden so no one could see or help.
In the room full of 16 to 18 year old boys, the workshop focused on this dynamic.
School counselor Jason Kling showed a few Power Point scenarios where the stalker, beater and aggressor was always the male. “Generally, we are considered the perpetrators,” he said. The room buzzed with agreement.
Kling pointed toward the girls’ workshop down the hall. “The girls over there are being empowered to speak up,” he said.
Back talking, teasing, cheating. None of it means it’s acceptable to hit. “When you feel like violence is coming, you know what the answer is?” Chaikin asked. “Walk away.”
Over in the girls’ room, prosecutor Amanda Michalski talked about online abuse and sexting. She asked the girls sweet teens in Ugg boots and lip gloss, polite girls whose moms dropped them off at the conference whether any of them or their friends have been pressured to text nude pictures of themselves to a boyfriend. The response was almost unanimous.