Photo Courtesy of Donia Maymoun
About 1.5 million high school students nationwide confess to having been a victim of intentional harm caused by their partner, according to loveisrespect.org. In order to bring awareness of and prevent teen dating violence, students wore orange and participated in ASB-planned lunchtime activities throughout February, which is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Orange is the color representing Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, which started in 2007. During advisement, orange bracelets embossed with the phrase “Love is Respect” were passed out to students in order to promote the event.
“I have heard about people, specifically women, being treated differently or hurt…I had never really heard of teen dating violence before [Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month],” intercultural liaison Nandini Goyal said. “Once I heard of it, I started noticing how it actually exists.”
One lunch-time event to bring awareness was a competition between a team of two from each house (Poseidon, Orion, Hercules and Pegasus), where one person dips his face in whipped cream while the other player attempts to throw orange cheese puffs at him. Having the most cheese puffs stuck on a player’s face, Hercules won the game.
ASB also painted orange hearts on students who requested them and distributed orange soda. Another event involved a speaker coming from Human Options, a non-profit organization dedicated to stopping domestic violence, in order to inform students on teen dating violence, while a different activity had students sign a social contract.
“I signed my name and put my thumbprint dipped in orange paint on a contract,” freshman Hannah Siekmann said. “I was promising that I would not get into a relationship with abusive qualities, or, if I do, that I would tell someone about it.”
Approximately one in five girls who are in a romantic relationship is a victim of teen dating violence, according to USA Today. Statistics like this were displayed on TVs across campus in an effort to help make students mindful of the topic.
“We want students to be aware of what the statistics are and what is out there and just help them build their coping skills and healthy boundaries,” counselor Melissa Gibson said.
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month’s goal is to end teen dating violence and emphasize the importance of respect in a relationship, an important idea that Portola seems to underline for its students.