‘A priceless gift’ — Senator Johnson calls for awareness of teen dating abuse

December 29, 2010

Dear Editor:

As we sit around the dinner table with family and friends this holiday season, let us not forget to appreciate the gifts of love, trust, and respect. These are core values of strong, healthy relationships that bring us much joy and fulfillment.

I recently participated in a program hosted by the National Foundation for Women Legislators’ (NFWL), Liz Claiborne Inc., and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that made me realize these relationships are more powerful than we think.

The program focused on teen dating violence and discussed the urgent need for education to promote healthy teen relationships. It was heartbreaking to hear from parents who had lost their children, and from a teen survivor, who did not realize something was wrong until it was too late. Not only did I learn that nearly 1 in 10 American high school students experience physical dating violence, but there are also serious health consequences for young children who witness violence in their homes.

Thankfully there are initiatives happening around the country to address teen dating violence and provide young people with resources. Education is key and fundamental to stopping abuse before it even starts. However, more needs to be done and everyone needs to get involved.

Please join me in a national effort to promote teen dating abuse education, because we are all entitled to relationships based on love, trust, and respect. It is Oklahoma’s turn to get involved. We can spend this holiday season by talking to our children about relationships, what is acceptable and what is not, and we can advocate for teen dating violence education in our schools and communities. This will be a priceless gift.

Sen. Constance N. Johnson

District 48 – Oklahoma County

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