Teen dating violence – a growing and often unrecognized issue nationwide – will be spotlighted on Saturday, April 16 as hundreds of teens, parents, schools and community members make their way across the Brooklyn Bridge as part of the fifth annual New York City Teen Dating Violence Awareness Walk-a-thon.
The event – which serves as the city’s sole walk for teen dating violence – is run year after year by the Healing Center, a Brooklyn-based organization founded in 2000 to serve those who suffer in silence because of the issue.
“It has become all too common and no community, neighborhood or household is immune to it,” said Antonia Clemente, executive director and founder of The Healing Center. “We are walking to City Hall to stress the need for continued funding, awareness and education on teen dating violence that affects many youth in our city.”
According to the American Journal of Public Health, one in three teens report experiencing some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships. Additionally, Women’s Health has reported that at least 81 percent of parents surveyed either don’t believe teen dating violence to be an issue or admit that they are unsure.
The walk will begin at Cadman Plaza and Tillary Street in downtown Brooklyn with registration from 9 to 10 a.m., followed by a rally at 11 a.m. Survivors and supporters will then march over the Brooklyn Bridge, and convene on the steps of City Hall where the event will conclude with a noon press conference.
At both the rally and the press conference, teen dating violence survivors will be given a platform to tell their stories.
This year’s co-sponsors include Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Bay Ridge, Caribbean Women’s Health Association, Center for Anti-Violence Education, CONNECT, HealthFirst, New York Asian Women’s Center, Sanctuary for Families, YWCA of Brooklyn, D.WildMusic Radio and Surrender clothing line.
According to Sandra Torres, youth coordinator for the Healing Center, last year’s event was an overwhelming – and emotional – success.
“[It] was a successful, fierce collective demonstration of various communities creating safe spaces to prevent future victims of teen dating violence,” she told this paper.
For more information on, to register for or to donate to the fifth annual New York City Teen Dating Violence Awareness Walk-a-thon, visit www.crowdrise.com/NYCTeenWalk.