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February recognized as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

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A resolution authored by Rep. Robin Shackleford, D-Indianapolis, was approved by the Indiana House of Representatives on Feb. 28, declaring February Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in the state.

“I’m honored to author a resolution recognizing February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month,” Shackleford said in a statement. “This resolution emphasizes our state’s commitment to creating an environment where our young people can live and thrive free of fear of violence.”

Shackleford is a member of the House Public Health Committee and chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus.

Roughly 1 in 10 teenagers in Indiana experience physical violence in their relationships, according to Shackleford, and about 1 in 8 experience sexual violence from a partner. Experiencing dating violence as a teenager increases one’s chances of experiencing domestic violence as an adult, according to Danyette Smith, the city’s director of domestic violence programming in the Office of Public Health and Safety.

Shackleford said she hopes to create comprehensive solutions to teen dating violence and initiatives to combat the issue, including a grant to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office to educate youth on the warning signs of unhealthy relationships, as well as providing legal support for victims.

Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears commended Shackleford for the resolution.

“Helping young people make good choices and understand how to look out for their own safety should be important to all of us,” Mears said in a statement. “This is an issue that impacts every community, and I hope through our work in schools and youth-serving organizations we can make Indianapolis a leader in prevention.”

If you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the Love is Respect Hotline at 1-866-331-9774, or text “LOVEIS” to 22522 for free and confidential support. You can also visit its website at loveisrespect.org.

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