February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. It is a national effort to raise awareness and protect teens from violence. Every year, approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience dating violence from a dating partner. About one in 10 teens who have been on a date have also been physically abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the last year. Twenty-five percent of high school girls have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse or date rape. Youth violence is a leading cause of death and nonfatal injuries in the U.S.
Growing up in Bemidji, I remember times as a young teenager walking down by Paul and Babe enjoying the beautiful weather with my friends. You know those perfect sunny days with a cool breeze coming across Lake Bemidji? On more than one occasion, we would get honked at by men driving by. I was 13 years old. Have you ever heard the term "she wanted it"? Or "boys will be boys"? At 13, did I "want it"? Or was I "asking for it"? No, I was a young girl hanging out with a friend, but these actions are so readily acceptable in our society that those offensive behaviors are seen as okay.