February focus is on teen dating violence

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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - February is highlighted by Valentine's Day with expressions of love and compassion.

But did you know teens in relationships experience violence at a higher rate than adults?

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, but year round, Partners for Peace makes sure they're talking with teens about what a relationship is supposed to look like.

"About one in three young people are abused in their dating relationships," said the Community Response Team Leader at Partners for Peace Casey Faulkingham. "We have a lot of young people who are dating, getting in relationships, and are in fact using abusive tactics in their relationships, or they are the recipients of that behavior."

Educators at Partners for Peace know teens will talk about that behavior but not always to a parent, teacher, or any adult.

"The first person that they go to is their best friend," added Faulkingham. "So we hope to talk to the best friends out there to know what it is to look for and how to be helpful, and if the best friend comes to you and says, 'You know, I think there's something going on in my relationship that's not okay.'"

That's the reason they're working with schools in Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties.

"We're in the schools talking about really healthy and unhealthy behaviors that could happen in a relationship and what is it that should be important to young people when looking for a partner."

And they aren't always reaching out to the ones in the relationship.

"The best friend tells them that they are being abused in their relationship, they should listen, they should be respectful, be a good friend, and know when to get a trusted adult to be involved, to be helpful."

Partners for Peace ME dot org has more information, or you can call their 24 hour hotline at 800-863-9909.