SAN ANTONIO – A brand new advisory council on teen dating violence will be comprised of teenagers themselves.
During Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, Family Violence Prevention Services has begun taking applications for high school juniors and seniors.
Few people realize one in 11 high school females and one in 15 high school males have experienced or witnessed teen dating violence in the last year.
“It’s kind of shocking because you think, ‘Oh those relationships don’t happen where I’m from,’ and then you look more into what domestic violence is and you’re like, ‘Wow, I kind of see this on a daily basis with people in their relationships,” said 16-year-old Alamo Heights High School junior Ashley Goforth.
Goforth volunteers with Family Violence Prevention Services in San Antonio, where she’s gained basic knowledge about domestic violence and its many forms.
“A lot of the things I see as a teen at my school is more of emotional abuse, where it will be like, ‘You can’t wear this, you can’t hang out with these people.’ And also relationships where the person will be like, ‘If you don’t hang out with me I’m going to hurt myself,’” Goforth said.
When asked how many of those people she thinks would tell an adult about their experiences, Goforth said, “I just don’t really think people would ever bring that up to an adult. Especially not their parents, and I don’t think people would go to the school counselor and talk about it.”
Goforth said a lot of times, awareness about unhealthy relationships isn’t even there.
“I think people in those relationships, even the people doing that, don’t even realize what they’re doing is defined as domestic violence,” she said.
That’s exactly why Family Violence Prevention Services CEO Marta Pelaez is creating a Teen Advisory Council that will meet bimonthly, working with adult counterparts on how to address this issue.
The council will:
- Participate in bi-monthly virtual Meetings (for the time being)
- Expose participants to the nonprofit world
- Gain an understanding of the role our community leaders play
- Gain an understanding of the court system in domestic violence
- Gain an understanding of law enforcement in domestic violence
“I have no doubt that with the right amount of information and education that they can be wonderful voices among their peers to transfer information and be influential and perhaps even better than adults,” Pelaez said.
Pelaez believes children and teens are the key to stopping the cycle of generational violence.
Goforth sent in her application as soon as it became available.
“I want to be able to educate myself so I can educate others and make it normal to talk to someone who maybe knows more about it,” Goforth said.
High school juniors and seniors who want to be on the advisory council can apply right now on the Family Violence Prevention Services website. For any questions, you can call 210-930-3669, extension 1208.
Applications are due Monday, Feb. 15, with virtual interviews taking place Feb. 22-26. Notices of acceptance will be sent March 5.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or teen dating violence, there is a list of resources on the KSAT.com Domestic Violence page.
You can also always contact the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline by calling 800-799-SAFE or visiting the website where you can live chat with an expert.