Personal Reflections from the President & CEO

Danielle N. Hartman, MNM
President & CEO

Young Adult dating/relationship violence is a growing problem affecting youth in every community across the country. The statistics are staggering:

• Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
• Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence – almost triple the national average.
• Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18.

To address these indicators, JFS will be implementing a new and important program that will train teens in our community about relationship abuse, called “TARA” (Teens Against Relationship Abuse.) The objective of the program is for teens to educate, refer, and intervene with other teens when they recognize abusive behaviors and to increase bystander intervention when abuse occurs.

It is important for us at JFS to help address this issue. Teen dating violence causes severe trauma on victims. Teens who suffer dating abuse are subject to long-term consequences like alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, and thoughts of suicide.

The program will kick off later this month, coinciding with Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Selected teenagers will serve as Teen Advocates. These Advocates have committed to attending a training class, which will cover the topics of healthy versus unhealthy relationships, signs of dating abuse, peer and bystander intervention and help for the abuser. In addition to the training class, Advocates will attend group meetings 3 times per year. The program had 25 applicants for 15 spots and candidates were submitted from a broad spectrum of the community, including students from both public and private schools.

The goal of the program is to provide a safe, open forum for teens to talk about abuse and get answers to often unspoken questions. The program is being supervised by Aliza Schulman, JFS’ Domestics Abuse Education and Action Program Coordinator and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience working in the field.

For more information on this program please contact Aliza Schulman, LCSW at (561) 852-3333 or Alizas@ralesjfs.org.

B'Shalom

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