Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

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Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. I rise in support of this resolution, which supports the goals and ideals of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week. I want to commend the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Lewis) for sponsoring this legislation.

This nationwide effort seeks to increase public awareness and educate citizens about the prevalence of dating violence. The Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Initiative was spearheaded by teenagers across the Nation who chose to take a stand and put a stop to teen dating violence. The Initiative began in 2004, and is now supported by over 50 national, State, and local organizations.

The call to end teen dating violence was formally recognized by the House in 2006. Including today, this body has three times designated the first week in February ``National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week'' in an effort to bring more public awareness to a problem confronting today's teens.

Last year, an organization called Teen Research Unlimited surveyed parents, teens, and tweens--tween is someone between 11 and 14, Madam Speaker--about dating violence. The results of this poll demonstrated the depth of the problem of teen dating violence.

According to the poll, one in five teens who have been in a serious relationship report being struck in anger--either kicked, hit, slapped or punched--by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Further, one in three girls who have been in serious relationships say they have been concerned about being physically hurt by the individual that they are concerned about.However, dating violence among children is not limited to physical, emotional, and sexual assault. It can also take on the form of harassment via computer or cell phone text messaging or e-mail. In fact, 40 percent of the tweens who have dated now know friends who have been called names, put down, or insulted via cell phones or social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.

National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week provides an opportunity for parents to engage their children about dating violence and abusive relationships. The Teen Research Unlimited poll indicates that parents often do not know that their children are in relationships, let alone abusive relationships.

More than three times as many tweens--20 percent--as parents--six percent--admit that parents know little or nothing about the dating relationships of those tweens.

I encourage parents to use this week to talk with their children about dating and violence. To start the dialog, parents or teens can call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 866-331-9474. The Helpline promotes awareness of healthy dating relationships by making vital resources available to help teens experiencing dating violence and abusive relationships.

I encourage my colleagues to support this House resolution.

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