March, 2015….The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) just launched an updated teen dating violence awareness mobile app – td411 – that gives teens the “411″ on healthy relationships and teen dating violence.
One in three teens nationwide reports being physically, sexually or emotionally hurt by their partner. Despite most parents feeling confident that their children would tell them if they were being hurt, only 32 percent of teens in abusive relationships ever actually confide in their parents. Having easily accessible information for a tech-savvy generation of teens is essential for their safety. The app includes steps for how to stay safe, including talking to a trusted adult or reaching out to one of the state’s 18 domestic violence organizations (such as The Center for Family Justice) to talk to a certified counselor about dating violence.
“Adolescence is challenging, a time when many teens begin to date,” says Debra Greenwood, President and CEO of The Center. “In many cases, they do not understand what constitutes a healthy dating relationship. They often cannot identify abusive behaviors such as constant texts or phone calls, extreme jealousy when they want to spend time with their friends, pressure to take intimate photos or threats to post those photos. The td411 app explains all of these warning signs and includes a dating quiz so that teens can figure out where their relationship falls.
“In our area, we plan to communicate this new teen dating app through our prevention interaction in our regional high schools, have our new Youth Advisory Board at The Center for Family Justice help us send out this information on how to download the new free app and utilize this as a communication vehicle for opening up discussions with students, educators and parents in our six-town region of Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull,” Greenwood adds.
“It is critical that teens be able to access the information they need to learn the warning signs of abusive relationships and how to get help. And they need to be able to do that in a way that makes sense from them – on their phone,” said Karen Jarmoc, chief executive officer of CCADV. “It is our hope that this app serves as a practical and safe way for teens to get the answers to questions that they may be too afraid to ask.”
State Comptroller Kevin Lembo says: “As the parent of a teenager, I do the best I can every day to communicate with my son and try to make him feel comfortable communicating to me when he has questions or concerns about dating. This app – while never a substitute for direct conversations with your children – is a smart way to deliver information to teens who may be uncomfortable speaking about these issues with their parents. Using smartphone technology is a smart way to reach teens on a level where they feel safe. I commend CCADV for finding new and innovative ways to give teens and their parents the tools that they need to promote healthy relationships.”
“A troubling picture emerges from our research into teen dating abuse,” says State Senator Gayle S. Slossberg (D-Milford). “Too few of the teens who have been abused ever report that abuse. At the same time, most parents are confident that their children will talk to them if anything like this were to happen. This app offers teens a way to learn about healthy relationships on their own terms, through a medium of their own choosing. This is a smart and innovative way to give teens the information they need to develop healthy relationships.”
Teens who bully are more likely to commit dating violence. Additionally, rates of dating violence appear to run higher in teens who have a history of exposure to violence, signaling the importance of starting prevention efforts as early as possible.
“If teens can understand and participate in healthy dating and relationship behaviors in the earlier stages of their relationships, then the harmful consequences of dating violence can be prevented later on,” says Jill Spineti, president of The Governor’s Prevention Partnership. “All teens can benefit from using this app by gaining insight into their behavior and learning how to reach out for help when they want to make a change.”
The td411 app is available with both English and Spanish content as a free download from either iTunes App Store or Google Play. Users can access hotline numbers for each of the state’s 18 domestic violence organizations where they can receive free and confidential counseling 24 hours a day.
Anyone looking for help can call 203-384-9559 (English) or 888-568-8332 (Spanish).