February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. One in five tweens knows a victim of dating violence. (For citations to these and more statistics see Break the Cycle’s Dating Violence research available here.)

The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center has a project called Native Love, designed to educate Native teens on this very real problem.

Native Love is defined by our traditional ways of caring for each other and values as Native peoples of respect, honor, kindness, family and compassion. Our NativeLove project encourages youth to rethink what Native Love means to them, and empower them to define healthy relationships for themselves This is with the aim of promoting non-violent, respectful, safe relationships among Native youth, their families, communities, cultures, & Nations

A link to the project can be found here

In addition, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has been publishing guest blogs by judges discussing a judicial perspective on the epidemic of violence among teens and the need for awareness of this problem from the bench. Judge Anne McKeig, White Earth member and state court judge, wrote about her observations of the impact of family violence on Native children and how some of these kids have eventually ended up in her court as victims of dating violence – unable to break out of the cycle of violence.

The need to address dating violence among Native teens is critical. Forty percent of suicides by Native Americans are committed by those between the ages of 15 and 24.[10] While the cause of suicide is complex, untreated trauma is a known factor. Addressing the problem is also not easy. The occurrence of violence among Native teens is complicated by many factors – lack of culturally appropriate resources, historical trauma, high rates of alcohol and drug abuse, poverty, and the normalization of violence within the culture, to name a few. The “system” is viewed by the Native community as untrustworthy and in many cases, has contributed to the historical trauma endured by Native American families. Courts must commit to building trust with the Native community; building relationships to engage in meaningful dialogue; and creating a welcoming and accessible presence for Native victims to obtain help. Without that commitment there will be no change.

Blog post available here