NFL program works to teach teens how to have healthy relationships

LatinaLista — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in four adolescents reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a boyfriend or girlfriend each year.

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Otherwise known as teen dating violence, it has been on the rise over the last several years. It’s gotten to the point that the Arizona state legislature is now requiring their school districts to incorporate dating abuse information into school curriculums.

And the Massachusetts Essex County District Attorney was so concerned about the rise of teen dating violence in his state that he released a video called “Teens Talk About Dating Abuse.”

A Rhode Island congressman has been holding community strategy sessions at a local high school to explore how to best combat the growing epidemic.

The term “epidemic” may be an understatement considering that a free teen dating app released in April and developed by The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence has already been downloaded in more than 20 states across the nation.

The app provides teens with information on “where to get help if they are in unhealthy or violent relationships; provides guidance on what defines a healthy relationship; and informs teens how to help a friend experiencing dating violence.”

However, the root cause of teen dating violence is the attitude boys and girls have towards one another. The solution involves changing that attitude through education and awareness.

The National Football Players Association, working with the national men’s organization, A Call to Men, an organization devoted to addressing domestic and sexual violence prevention, launched Training Camps for Life .

Training Camps for Life puts NFL football players to work, along with A Call to Men representatives, in discussing topics such as overcoming adversity, the impact of decisions and consequences, and healthy teen relationships.

A CALL TO MEN will work with Training Camps for Life participants to challenge the attitudes and beliefs about what it means to be a man. Teens will examine popular culture through a lens of respect and equality, and dissect lyrics of current hip-hop tracks to understand the concept of male privilege. They will also learn to identify the nuances of abuse – like flirting vs. harassment – and understand when and how to seek help.

Considering that health experts say that many girls victimized by teen dating violence don’t report the abuse, it’s important that girls, as well as boys, learn what it means to be respected and when abuse isn’t a sign of love or affection.

To that end, boys and girls who participate in the Training Camps for Life program have the option to sign a pledge called LIVERESPECT. If they sign it, they commit to end teen relationship abuse and speak out against domestic violence.

Training Camps for Life program is part of the Verizon Foundation’s strategy to engage men and teens in helping end domestic violence. Additional camps will be held starting in the fall in Pittsburgh, Tampa, Boston, Dallas, San Diego, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.

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