Student group discusses teen date violence
Feb 10, 2013 (The Deming Headlight - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Discussion about teen dating violence and seeking help if you are a victim of it has become part of regular conversation at Deming High School as a group of students attempts to bring the topic of out the shadows and into a priority for student awareness.
Liz Ballinas, parent liaison for the Teen Dating Violence Leadership Team, leads a group of about 12 students whose objectives include teaching peers about dating violence and encouraging victims to get help.
"They're seeing it, they have seen it, but no one speaks up, because either they're just embarrassed or afraid or they just don't want to be part of it," she said of students. "But now with it being out in the open with the videos that we're showing, they're saying, 'We want to make a difference.'"
The group began in the summer of 2012 with its efforts to engage their peers to begin a dialogue about teen dating violence and physical and mental abuse. Six students just recently joined the group after hearing a presentation by the original members at a session of Mayor Andres Silva's roundtable discussions.
Now, with their numbers doubled, the group has had a busy schedule with planning events and designing a billboard just north of town. You can spot the billboard by traveling north on Highway 180, The billboard sits on the right side of the highway near Fourth Street.
Their first event will be held the evening of Friday, Feb. 22 as the Wildcats basketball team hosts its last home game of the year. At the
game, the Leadership Team will be on hand to pass out folders with resources for parents and teens.
Then, from 9 p.m. to midnight on Friday, March 1 at Starmax, located on North Country Club Road, the team will host a teen dance. More details will be announced as the dance nears, but organizers are already enticing guests by announcing there will be prize giveaways during the night.
"They reached out to the community to get these things done," Ballinas added.
They hope the combined efforts of organizing events, creating displays and getting the word out will drive home the point that one in 10 teens have reported being the victim of dating violence, but that it is impossible to know the true extent of the violence because victims often will not report what has happened.
"Most of the time, they will not come and say something because they think it's a part of a relationship," Irene Engle, with La Pinon, told a meeting of the Community Coalition last week. Her agency typically helps victims of sexual assault, but they have been doing more outreach in schools and the public to highlight the prevalence of teen dating violence.
"It's a learned behavior," she said. "It's something our youth learn from each other, not just at home."
She says parents should keep an eye out for signs their child -- male or female, both can be victims -- might be a victim, such as not taking the time they used to take to get ready for school or to go out. A teen might change the way they dress to wear more baggy clothing, or long sleeves to hide bruises or other marks.
Signs someone might be abusing their partner -- emotionally or physically -- include insisting on checking the victim's phone, putting the victim down, making false accusations, assault or extreme jealousy and insecurity, among other signs.
"It happens like you wouldn't believe in Deming," she added.
She asked that locals wear orange today to show their solidarity behind getting the word out about dating violence.
Ballinas recommended parents and teens visit www.loveisrespect.org or call (866) 331-9474 for more information or to seek help if you are a victim or if you know one.
Matt Robinson can be reached at email@example.com
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