Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Teen's Crusade to End Dating Violence

Nearly one in three teens who have been in relationships have experienced the most serious forms of dating violence and abuse, according to a 2009 study by the firm Teen Research Unlimited. My Central Jersey reports that high school sophomore Nicole DeSario is on a crusade against teen dating violence.

DeSario's initiative began in October as a service project to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award. The topic was familiar to DeSario, who said she was exposed to domestic violence as a young child, but now finds "it empowering to know that I'm stronger from what our family has gone through.'' She recently brought her efforts to a local middle school, where students took part in an interactive seminar titled "Speak Out: A Workshop on Teen Dating Violence.'' The program, which DeSario organized, was complete with a skit from a Rutgers University theater troupe and a video showing the prevalence of domestic violence in media.

She has also partnered with state Senator Linda Greenstein to draft a bill that would require the state Department of Education to develop a policy on dating violence in New Jersey's school districts. The bill, now under consideration in the Legislature, calls for districts to develop violence reporting procedures, adopt guidelines for responding to incidents at school and incorporate the topic into the health curriculum. Kudos to Nicole DeSario!

Do you have any outstanding Girl Scout Gold Award stories to share?