Page 45 - March 2021
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 Chicago PD promoting Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
For Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, Chicago Police Officers stepped up to help spread information and resourc- es to teenagers in need. 12th District officers partnered with Family Dollar and set up a table in the store to distribute pam- phlets, water bottles, wristbands and candy to teens on Feb. 19 and Feb. 20.
“Even if you’re not a victim of domestic violence, you’re going to know or meet somebody who is,” said Lisa Barraco, 12th Dis- trict youth liaison officer. “And you’ll now know how to help.”
Every year, 12th District officers also set up tables at the Boys and Girls Club and the University of Illinois at Chicago campus to reach places where they can typically run into young people. Barraco mentioned it’s important that people are properly ed- ucated on the types of abuse so that they can correctly identify it.
12th District officers hand out resources and brochures to raise awareness for teen dating violence at Family Dollar on Feb. 19.
“There are so many kinds of abuse other than physical,” she shared. “Like verbal, financial and emotional abuse. But those kinds of abuse are more hidden, and people think the only kind of abuse is physical.”
The officers of 12th District believe that spreading awareness is crucial to getting teen dating violence victims the help they need. In some cases, the victim feels too ashamed or scared to ask for support, and that may lead to more serious mental health repercussions, like depression — and could even lead to suicide. Instead, they hope their brochures and other resources will reach the people who need it most through word of mouth.
“We’re on this campus, and we give out stuff, and they’re going to go tell their friends,” Barraco explained. “And their friends will tell their friends. It’s all about the awareness.”
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, 12th District officers opt- ed to host several Zoom conferences for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month this year. Barraco, along with other officers, people from the Community Justice Center and people from the BASTA! Domestic Violence Program virtually offer resourc-
es like children’s services, health care and more.
Not only do they answer ques-
tions and give tips for victims or
people who know victims, but
they also try to break the stigma that men do not experience teen dating violence like women.
“Men can be victims just as women,” Barraco said. “That’s why we need to educate on abuse — you might reach the per- son who is a victim, and if we can get them that help, we’ve done our job.”
Some victims are unable to leave their relationship due to fear of lack of shelter and food, and 12th District officers make it a priority to let the victims know they have a place to stay and meals to eat.
“Especially now, a lot of people are suffering financially and need extra resources,” Barraco said. “We want to use our re- sources to help people know where they can start.”
And two 14th District Domestic Violence Liaison officers hosted a virtual seminar to raise awareness about teen vio- lence and promote safe, healthy relationships on Feb. 16. They shared resources including domestic violence, sexual assault and rape crisis hotlines, as well as advice for victims.
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