SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Georgia has the highest rate of teen dating violence in the country, according to advocacy groups. Now the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is working with local agencies to address the problem with funding from the ‘Teen Dating Violence Grant’.
“Teen dating violence is very common,” says SCCPSS Superintendent, Dr. Ann Levett.
SCCPSS in partnership with the Front Porch, the Department of Family and Children’s Services, Safe Shelter, Coastal Children’s Advocacy, Greenbriar Children’s Center and Park Place Outreach for this initiative.
“With Georgia being ranked number one in the nation for teen dating abuse for ages 16 to 24, we have work to do,” says Doris Williams, the executive director for the Rape Crisis Center.
The money will be used to inform and educate teenagers to recognize an abusive situation and get help.
“We recognize it’s a problem, we see the reports. We also recognize the hesitancy of young people both young men and young women to report these. So, we want to educate them so that they’ll be able to take care of themselves,” Dr. Levett said.
Organizers say some of the preventative and support measures will include visual materials with information and resources on dating violence, online resources, additional counseling, as well as referral information and resources for victims of teen dating violence.
“Often times teens who are victims of violence don’t want to talk about it and they don’t know where to get help. Our goal through this grant is to make sure we get information out,” says Chief of Police for the Board of Education Police Department, Terry Enoch.
This information can protect teenagers who are experiencing violence, advocates say — a resource that wasn’t always available to students.
“I remember when my daughter was in high school and she came to me with some information about one of her best friends who was in a situation where a young man was being very violent against her, hitting her,” says Barbara Davis, the Deputy Court Administrator for Chatham County Juvenile Court.
She continues saying, “Although she did make it out of the situation, it lasted a couple of years. If this opportunity was afforded to her, maybe it wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did.”
With this new grant, advocates say, they’re aiming to put an end to the violence.