Students bring awareness to teen dating violence

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WHITEWRIGHT, Tex. (KXII) February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month and one Texoma high school is taking action.

"If they're willing to make it important and take it seriously, we are too," said Mickinze VanHerpen with the Grayson County Crisis Center.

"It's a really sad thing that we have to spread awareness for something like this that should be just self-explanatory," said senior student, Piper Labarge.

Dating violence can be physical, sexual, digital, financial, verbal or emotional. It's a serious issue among teens that students say is not talked about enough.

"I think the most important thing is just giving out resources and giving out examples for what a healthy relationship looks like, because if you have healthy relationships now it's gonna set the tone for every other relationship that you have," said senior student, Macy Edwards.

Edwards and Labarge are part of the student group, Project Emerge, which promotes student wellness.

"We definitely see it, even in our small campus. We see like things in the hallways like there have been some personal experiences and people in our group have actually experienced," said Labarge.

"Each year they've tackled different social issues that are what I would sometimes call 'taboo,' the kids don't talk about or don't want to talk about. So we talk about it," said Whitewright Principal Steve Morrow.

Statistics show 1 in 3 teens experience dating violence with those ages 16 to 24 experiencing the highest rates of intimate partner violence.

"It happens so often a lot of times it's not talked about because just kids you don't think that it happens, but it really does," said Edwards.

This month they're working with the Grayson County Crisis Center to host sessions, hang posters and provide resources and statistics to their peers.

"Most of the clients that we see have a pattern of these experiences happening to them, and it typically starts when they're young," said VanHerpen.

Morrow hopes other schools will follow in his students' footsteps with promoting awareness.

"To have an adult come in that sees the bad side of that tell them and talk to them about what healthy relationship look like, and have these kids spread the word is awesome," he said.

The Grayson County Crisis Center encourages other school districts to reach out for assistance in preparation for next year.

Resources can be found by clicking any of these links to organization websites: Grayson Co. Crisis Center Love is Respect Break the Cycle National Domestic Violence Hotline.