New York- Senator José M. Serrano hosted the forum Teen Dating Violence: Working Together to find Community Solutions at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. "When people think of domestic violence, they often think of things like adult marital disputes" said Serrano. "While this type of abuse is important to address, we often forget that young people can become involved in violent relationships as well."
The event began with remarks by Senator Serrano followed by a panel presentation by experts in the field of teen dating violence, including Alicia Hammond, Coordinator for the RAPP Program at Stevenson High School; Joe Samalin, Consultant for Men Can Stop Rape; Asia Lyons, Outreach Coordinator for Bronx Community Pride; Sarah Aron, Children's Aid Society TARA Program.
The speakers gave useful information regarding available resources for teenagers involved in abusive relationships, as well as tips for both parents and teenagers on how to avoid dangerous dating situations.
"This is a timely and welcome example of true community engagement around this issue which is at best minimized and at worst so often invisible," said Samalin. "It is of utmost importance to educate about and address the issue of relationship abuse and violence as it specifically relates to young people in our communities, especially since we know domestic violence is as prevalent among young people as with adults."
The event culminated with an interactive performance by the Pregones Theater, a Bronx-based ensemble producing original theater rooted in Latino culture. During the piece entitled "The Phone Call," members of the audience had the opportunity to participate in the play on stage.
After the performance the students, teachers, parents, and concerned citizens present at the event had a chance to meet with and receive information from various representatives from local anti-violence organizations such as: Violence Intervention Program, Inc., Bridge Builders, Safe Horizon DV Police Program, Leave the Wilderness, and the Citizens Committee of NYC, AND Steps to End Family Violence.
"The Senator is addressing this issue in a community setting, in fact looking for community solutions, shows his level of dedication to both preventing violence amongst youth and addressing it in safe and effective ways where it is occurring. I am thrilled to be a part of this event which I hope is one of many such events to come," said Samalin.
Teen dating violence has become growing concern in New York City, after the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence revealed that in 2007 alone, 16,861 telephone calls made by teenagers were received by the City's Domestic Violence Hotline. Furthermore, attention to recent events regarding teen dating violence in the media has brought the subject to the forefront.
"These are eye-opening statistics. In cases of teen dating violence it becomes even more crucial to educate our communities," said Serrano, "because in many instances these are first-time relationships that set the tone for how our teens view and interact in romantic partnerships throughout their lives.
"They say it takes a village to raise a child, and we as a community are making sure that our children grow up in safe, nurturing environments, even when it comes to issues that aren't often addressed."