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We've got to stop violence among teens

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By Alice Du Pont

Last week a 13-year-old girl was choked by her boyfriend, who is 16, because she looked at another boy. I am told that incidents like this one occur almost daily. The girl said she didn't want anything to happen to him.

During a meeting a week ago, I had the opportunity to talk with some young ladies about things that bother them most. The youngest in the group was 15 and her concerns were for the safety of her friends. Their boyfriends, she said, hit them when they "get out of line."

She said her friends are afraid to tell because the hitting will get worse if the boy is punished in any way. Some, she said, won't date certain boys because in ninth and 10th grades, they are proud of the reputations they have for hitting girls.  

These are not love taps and it's not affection. This is straight-up domestic abuse based on control, and the ages are getting younger and younger. On Saturday, domestic violence among teens will be one of the topics addressed at the teen rally at Carter-Parramore Academy. The event will begin at 11 a.m. in the gymnasium. Parents need to make sure their children attend.

Tony Parker of Tony Parker Ministries said no one is going to preach to the kids but the message they will be given is that hitting, pushing, choking and verbal abuse are not acceptable behaviors. There will also be a variety of games with prizes to pique the interest of the teens.

The Florida Attorney General's Office is strongly backing programs such as this one because the victims are getting younger and younger. In a meeting last week with partners on teen rallies that will be held throughout our region this month, representatives from several rural counties said they have also experienced a spike in domestic violence crimes.

Anyone who thinks domestic violence is a thing of the past needs to only think about the 21-year-old mother and her three children in Sneads who were killed and the perpetrator who is on trial this week, or the college student who was killed last week by her live-in boyfriend.

Of course, there have always been people who prefer to hide their heads in the sand. That's why the problem is as large as it is and getting bigger. It won't be old-fashioned when your daughter gets punched.

Send your comments to adupont@gadcotimes.com.