Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Verizon Wireless Announces Plans for Teen Dating Violence Educational Campaign in Georgia

/PRNewswire/ -- In recognition of October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Verizon Wireless announced today their plans to create a new program in Georgia designed to foster open communication between parents and their teens regarding healthy relationships. The Letter to My Child campaign, intended to prevent teen dating violence, will be launched in the spring of 2010. Over the next few months Verizon Wireless will develop an online community for parents to turn to for communication tips and help from other sources and peers. The website will provide online resources for parents and teens to inform them about teen dating violence and sexual assault and offer additional resources to seek help.

"Our hope is that this homegrown program will reset the expectations, norms and behaviors of our young men and women, ultimately keeping our teens safer, happier and healthier," said Jeff Mango, president, Verizon Wireless Georgia/Alabama Region. "Through Letter to My Child, we will encourage parents to write letters to their teenagers, opening up the conversation regarding healthy relationships. We think the spring is a good time to launch this program, considering April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and that teens are getting ready for prom season, when there is much dating pressure."

With the Letter to My Child program, Verizon Wireless will ask Georgia's parents to write their teens letters encouraging them to seek healthy relationships and defining unhealthy behaviors. The program's aim is to educate parents about the role they play in preventing dating violence while also teaching teens about the signs to look for in their friends' and own relationships, their options and helping them make healthy choices.

Verizon Wireless is a recognized corporate leader for its commitment to preventing domestic/dating violence and raising awareness of the issue through their HopeLine program. HopeLine is a multifaceted program that includes a successful phone recycling and re-use effort, financial support for local and national domestic violence organizations, community and corporate awareness programs, and partnerships with law enforcement agencies, professional sports teams, educational institutions and corporations nationwide. Via their work with HopeLine, the company recognizes the need to teach young people about healthy relationships at an early age.

Consider these facts:
-- 1 in 3 teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit,
punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner.
-- 1 in 4 teenage girls who have been in relationships reveal they have
been pressured to perform or engage in sexual activity.
-- More than 1 in 4 teenage girls in a relationship (26%) report enduring
repeated verbal abuse by their partner.
-- If trapped in an abusive relationship, 73% of teens said they would
turn to a friend (not a parent) for help; but only 33% who have been
in or known about an abusive relationship said they have told anyone
about it.

"We have been very involved for years with organizations and shelters that help victims of domestic violence in Georgia, through grants, phone collection efforts and hands-on volunteerism," said Mango. "We now want to reach out specifically to teens, when they start building romantic relationships, with a goal of preventing domestic violence before it starts."

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