Schools partner with WRAP to spread awareness of teen dating violence

In recognition of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, WRAP (Wo/Men’s Resource and Rape Assistance Program) partnered with Haywood County Schools to promote awareness of healthy teen dating relationships. On Wednesday, February 12, and Thursday, February 13, Cindy Smith, Coordinated School Health, and Barbara Hobson, WRAP Advocate for Haywood County, set up a table display for students to visit. According to data, 1 in 3 teens experiences some sort of relationship violence, either verbal, physical or emotional. When students visited the table set up in their cafeterialast week, they were presented information on the warning signs of a violent relationship and what they should do if they’re experiencing it. Hobson said it’s important to bring these facts into the schools because students may not know what signs they should be looking for. “Oftentimes, teens are in toxic relationships and they don’t even realize it before it’s too late. They’re in controlling relationships, they’re in abusive relationships, and they think it’s love when we both know it’s the opposite. It is an abusive relationship that can lead to physical violence.”Hobson said an abusive teenage relationship most commonly begins with signs of control. “Oftentimes it starts out as something like texting or sending pictures, but then it becomes a demanding thing. I’ll text you every day or I’m going to FaceTime you every day so I know where you are. Or I’m going to go through your phone to find out who you’ve been with.” Hobson said the abuse will continue to snowball from there if left unchecked.In addition to getting informational resources at the table, students were asked to write what love means to them in one word on a display on the wall. The answers varied with some seeing love asa positive emotion, writing that love is “joy” and “empowering”, while others saw the emotion differently, ending the sentence instead with “toxic” and “dangerous.”WRAP hopes that by educating students on what a healthy relationship looks like, they’ll continue to create “safe, stable, nurturing relationships, families and communities.”