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Teaching teens that digital dating abuse is “not cool”

LatinaLista — A teenager’s life has always been tough. There have always been bullies, “mean girls,” that one special guy or girl that gave you butterflies in your stomach, and for some teen girls that one guy who professed his love like Romeo but acted more like Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

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But what has not always been a part of a teen’s life is digital technology. That is unique to this generation, and for today’s teenage girls that technology is bringing an added problem to their young lives — digital dating abuse.

Specifically, it’s about girls being pressured to send nude pics of themselves to their abusing boyfriends. To vulnerable girls who don’t want to lose their boyfriends, it’s a hard decision, for other’s it’s a no-brainer that “That’s not cool.”

In fact, “That’s not cool” is the name of an initiative created by Futures Without Violence in 2009 to “educate kids about healthy relationships, encourages them to draw their own digital line and helps young people recognize, avoid, and prevent dating violence in their lives.”

The campaign consists of a web site where youth view videos on the subject and now can do something new — create their own talking avatar.

That’s Not Cool launched a new speaking avatar application that allows teens to “Have Their Say” when it comes to relationship abuse. After watching an animated video addressing digital dating abuse, teens create a personalized character and voice to respond to the “Pressuring Someone for Nude Pics, Cool or Not Cool?” question posed in the video.

That’s Not Cool uses text-to-speech technology so the teen-created character speaks the answer to the question in the voice style each teen selects.

Everyone’s avatar is their entry into the campaign’s new online contest. Until August 30, teenagers can create their avatar, answer the question about digital dating abuse and post the video on the campaign’s website for a chance to win one of 100 special t-shirts.

With a new school year only a few weeks away, the hope is to get the message to more young people that anyone who asks for a nude pic is just plain not cool!

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