Murder of 13-year-old girl shines spotlight on teen dating violence

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SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – The recent murder of a 13-year-old girl in Savannah is shining a spotlight on teen dating violence.

According to Savannah Police, La’Meya Mitchell was gunned down by her 16-year-old boyfriend, Jeremiah Seaton, on Seminole Street. Seaton is charged with her murder.

The Executive Director of Safe Shelter, Cheryl Branch, told News 3 that Mitchell’s death is a classic case of domestic violence. One that ended in the worst way it possibly could. She said in her more than 20 years at the domestic violence center, a 13-year-old victim is a first for her.

“I thought, what she is doing dating a 16-year-old, and why is a 16-year-old coming to see her with a gun?”

Cheryl Branch, Safe Shelter

Mitchell’s mom told News 3 that she did not know her daughter was dating at first. She believes Jeremiah Seaton may have killed La’Meya while she was trying to end their relationship.

Branch said a breakup is the most dangerous time for a victim because it means the abuser no longer is in control. She said it’s especially dangerous when the couple has not yet matured.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 11 teen girls reported experiencing physical dating violence in 2018. 26% of women experienced some kind of violence or stalking before the age of 18.

Branch said it’s important for parents to have those tough conversations, even at a young age.

“I know in the teenage years they’re not as forthcoming about what’s going on in their life, but I think parents, especially now, need to be aware that at that age girls are dating and try to have that communication.”

Cheryl Branch, Safe Shelter

Branch said they are going to start a new outreach program in January for middle and high school students. Safe Shelter has rescheduled its Teen Dating Violence Awareness Concert in Forsyth Park for February.

If you need the Safe Shelter hotline, call 912-629-8888.

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