Girls as young as 11 have reported incidents, according to Choose Respect, a national initiative dedicated to helping inform youth
ages 11 to 14 about the issue. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports one in every 11 adolescents is a victim of physical dating violence. One in every four reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse annually. One in five is the victim of emotional abuse.
Choose Respect says 20 percent of teen girls said they’d had a boyfriend who had threatened violence or self-harm in an effort to prevent the girl from breaking up with him. One in five high school girls will be physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. Of those girls, 80 percent will continue to date their abuser.
In an effort to reduce these numbers locally, Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office will be holding a free one-hour personal safety seminar for teenage girls and women at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, at Hopkins County Regional Civic Center.
All females age 12 or older are encouraged to attend to learn how to better protect themselves from becoming a victim of dating violence. HSCO Deputy and Crime Prevention Specialist Rex Morgan will be leading the class, which will focus on the safety rules for dating and how to spot signs of a battering personality.
“Roughly 60 percent of calls to the sheriff’s office are domestic disturbances or of that nature. We want to see all of these numbers go down. This is to help empower ladies, let them know they don’t have to settle,” Morgan said. “A lot of times, ladies and teen girls are too entrenched in the situation to see it until the situation becomes dire. Ladies don’t have to settle for a creep. So often they are attracted to the ‘bad boy’ type. He may seem attractive, but too often the cost is not worth it. Ladies, you don’t have to settle for ‘bad boy’ types and dead beat dads.”
Although the seminar is targeted primarily at females who date, any woman or girl age 12 and up is welcome as domestic situations can apply to all.
“Jealousy is not love. A good relationship is not violent. Don’t be influenced by a bad example in the community. We don’t want girls and women to think it’s OK, acceptable. Abuse is not OK. There is not any excuse for it,” Morgan added.
The class is open to any female age 12 and up. Girls who are less than 17 years of age must be accompanied by a female parent or guardian. The only exception to the female attendance rule would be a father or male family member if a female adult is not available to accompany the girl younger than 17. Also, more mature girls ages 10 or 11 or those age 10 and up with another family member can attend, although parents are urged to consider the topic when bringing girls younger than 12.
For additional information about the seminar or the topic, call Morgan at the sheriff’s office at 903-438-4040 or 903-885-1108.
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