Craig students hope to educate during Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month |

Craig students hope to educate during Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month

Scott Schlaufman

Miranda Blomquist, 17, said she's had friends abused by boyfriends or girlfriends.

"It just makes you feel like (the violence) shouldn't be there," Blomquist said. "It's something that needs to be taken care of, but shouldn't be there."

Blomquist, a Moffat County High School senior, is one of five members of Stopping Abuse Forever, or SAFE, a new student organization at the school that gives members the chance to help peers impacted by the problem.

It's an issue highlighted as part of February's Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month.

At Tuesday night's Craig City Council meeting, Craig Mayor Don Jones signed a proclamation recognizing the month in Craig.

Carol Romero-Crossman is the children's advocate/youth services coordinator for Advocates-Crisis Support Services. She also oversees the SAFE student group.

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"It's a teen driven group that goes to their school, whether it be high school or middle school, and they educate their peers as to what it is to have a healthy dating relationship," Romero-Crossman said.

Blomquist said SAFE was originally designed as a seminar, and 15 people attended the first meeting.

She said the training left enough of an impression for her to stay with it.

"I think it really needs to be addressed," Blomquist said. "Going to that training, it makes you realize it's really a problem."

SAFE is working on getting local support, and later presenting to high school students.

On Tuesday, members of the group appeared in front of the city council, and Romero-Crossman is scheduled to appear before the Moffat County Commission on Feb. 1 to get a county proclamation endorsing the awareness month.

The reasoning behind using peers to reach out, Romero-Crossman said, is that with teenagers it's hard for victims to come forward.

"There's a whole gray area behind that, that if they tell, or if they say something, that the word's going to get out to their parents," she said. "It is a gray area and it needs to be changed."

She said Advocates offers the same support services for teenagers that they do any other victim, but the organization doesn't see many teens.

Romero-Crossman said this worries her.

"When I speak with the SAFE group members, they tell me of things that they see going on in the school, that they may themselves have experienced, or that their friends are experiencing and those individuals don't have anybody to talk to," she said.

The solution is reaching out and helping educate youths 12 to 18 years old, a demographic the American Bar Association identified in 2000 as "a window of opportunity" to break bad dating habits.

"The whole reason behind this month is to get it out there, get the education out there, that teen dating violence is occurring," Romero-Crossman said. "If you need help, if you are a victim of this violence … there are options for you."

Eventually, the hope is that the program can reach out not only to high school students, but those in middle school as well.

"We all deserve respect," Romero-Crossman said. "We all deserve to be in a safe relationship."

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National teen dating violence information:

• Females ages 16 to 24 experience violence from an intimate partner at a rate almost triple the national average.

• High school students who experience physical violence in a dating relationship are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, are at greater risk of suicide, and are more likely to carry patterns of abuse into future relationships.

• Young people victimized by a dating partner are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior and unhealthy dieting behaviors.

• Only 33 percent of teens in an abusive relationship tell someone else about the abuse.

— Information used in the Craig City Council’s proclamation designating February as Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month.

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