“Wake Up” - that's what a group of students from Richard Montgomery High School want their peers to do about teen dating violence.
Sunday, the 4th Annual Choose Respect Montgomery Teen Dating Conference featured a contest to create an original public service announcement. The contest was open to students throughout Montgomery County.
The first place winners of $1,000 were Alexandra Wong, Eleanor Pershing, Chloe Welmond and Christopher Broussard, who created the PSA "Wake Up". The Richard Montgomery students' PSA shows a young couple in a picture perfect relationship in the beginning - but then the video cuts to the woman on the floor, bruised and crying, with blood streaming down her hands.
News4’s Jackie Bensen hosted the event and encouraged students and parents to recognize the signs of abuse and to become an advocate against teen dating violence.
Ending the silence of domestic violence has become an ongoing campaign for the Domestic Violence Coordination Council of Montgomery Council.
“Teen dating violence is a serious problem," said Phil Andrews, Montgomery council member and chair of the council's Public Safety Committee. "It affects people of all races, income levels, and genders. Although one in three teens in the U.S. is a victim of sexual, mental, or verbal abuse from a dating partner, research shows that two-thirds of them will never report it."
The subject of domestic violence in young relationships has been the focus of numerous discussions in the media over the past few years, ranging from the Law & Order: SVU episode “Funny Valentine,” which aired late last month, featuring a story close to the 2009 events between entertainers Chris Brown and Rihanna, to MTV airing the explosive fights and unhealthy relationship between cast members Ron and Sammi on Jersey Shore.
Andrews said nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
“Technology such as cell phones, email, and social networking and websites have played a major role in teenagers' lives, [but] these tools are sometimes misused for control, stalking, and victimization,” Andrews said, reading from a council proclamation.
The county council has proclaimed March 2013 as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.