NEWARK–As more teenagers turn to the internet to seek answers for their many areas of concern, the Family Life Education Center (FLEC) at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBIMC) has created an innovative and interactive, bilingual online teen education center about the dangers of interpersonal or partner (or dating) violence, and offers an accompanying support group for teen girls.
The combination of services, including an additional link on the website that offers an opportunity for girls to talk to an expert 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is a groundbreaking effort, the first in New Jersey, to reach teens where they are most likely to search for information.
“We decided to address the needs of our middle and high school girls by meeting them where they are, on the Internet, through a bilingual website that addresses questions about domestic violence, dating abuse and other areas of concern,” says Dr. Christine Baker, Director of the Family Life Education Center, which focuses on the prevention and intervention of child abuse and neglect by enhancing parenting skills. “Teen girls who witness violence are at risk for victimization now and in the future, even if they think they are not.”
The new site, located at www.AreasKeepGirlsSafe.com, is made possible by a grant from The Verizon Foundation through a Domestic Violence Solutions award. It provides teens with the facts about interpersonal abuse, from identifying what abuse is to providing a list of frequently asked questions and answers. Access links, videos, quizzes and a questionnaire are offered, with a variety of topics including how to help a friend who is experiencing abuse. AREAS stands for Attitude Review, Education And Support.
The support group AREAS 4 U, held at a private location, and an email option at AREAS@barnabashealth.org where teens can have questions privately answered daily, provide real life support beyond the website.
“We know that in cases of interpersonal violence, the most dangerous time is when the victim is trying to leave a relationship,” reports Dr. Baker. “Research also shows that there is a high probability that those who witness domestic violence will become victims or perpetrators of abuse. Those who are witnesses learn that aggression is acceptable among partners.”
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