Megan Wilson hears many stories from students about teen dating violence. But too often, students don’t share these stories with their parents or other adults when these episodes occur, she said.
Wilson, the Women’s Bureau’s outreach coordinator, shared this information and more during a meeting for Fort Wayne Community Schools parents Tuesday night at Anthis Career Center. The meeting’s purpose was to educate parents about teen dating and abusive relationships.
Students in public schools will begin learning more about these topics in school, the result of legislation enacted in 2010 after an Indianapolis teen was stalked and killed by her boyfriend. The district is instituting an evidence-based curriculum about teen dating and relationships for grades 6 through 12, said Jennifer Lutz, a coordinator in the district’s academic services department.
The meeting attracted a handful of parents who learned about the signs of abusive relationships, types of abuse and statistics. Lutz also shared the No. 1 reason she hears that students don’t want to talk to their parents about an abusive relationship: They fear they will get in trouble or face other consequences.
Marilyn Young is the parent of two teenage boys in the district and came to educate herself, despite her husband being protective of their sons, she said. Wilson emphasized that males can be victims as well.
She also shared a story about a teen who stalked her ex-boyfriend by installing a GPS on his cellphone. Young said her middle school-aged sons, whom she described as good-looking football players, could be taken advantage of by aggressive teen girls, and she wanted to make sure she was educated on the topics before her sons enter high school.
Kathie Green, Northrop High School Parent-Teacher Association co-president and Fort Wayne Area PTA Council president, also attended the meeting and hoped to take the information and disseminate it at future meetings.
Wilson also provided information about a fairly new photo-sharing application available for smartphone users that has seen massive growth since its launch in September.
Wilson said the application is another way for kids to sext, or share sexually suggestive photos.
According to a handout from Wilson, the application gives teens a false sense of security because it displays photos only for five seconds before they are deleted.
But the application cannot guarantee all data will be deleted because users can take a picture of the picture with another device or by taking a screen shot of the photo.
The target demographic for users of the application is ages 13 to 25.