Police department hosts town hall on teen dating violence

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. A local police department is reaching out to the community to talk about the warning signs to look out for and resources if a teen finds themselves in trouble.

"Unfortunately 1 out of every 3 teenagers experiences abusive behaviors in a relationship," Sheltering Wings Education and Outreach Coordinator, Melissa Echerd said.

Often times a teen doesn't recognize behaviors they're involved in as domestic violence. And even if they feel something isn't right, many don't tell.

"Several times a year I would say that we've taken reports whether it's harassing communications or anything physical or sexual abuse we do have several a year we take reports from teens dating," Pittsboro Police Chief Christi Patterson said.

Chief Patterson invited the team from Sheltering Wings to host a town hall on teen dating violence. This topic hit home for the community after two murder-suicides in the past two years. In each case onlookers were silent.

"We knew something like this was gonna happen. They knew domestic violence was going on and no one ever said anything," Patterson said.

Tamela Shook is a substitute teacher and wants to be armed with tools to help students.

"If a child feels like they have no one to talk to that they could come and talk to me and I would know what to do. Because some children are afraid to tell someone," Shook said.

Many teens deal with digital control. Being asked to handover your password as a sign of trust or share your mobile location. Those are some of the signs they want teens to know isn't a sign of love.

"For them to make sure that they feel respected, that they don't feel like they have to change who they are to fit into this relationship," Echerd said.

A study from a Ball State University community health education professor looked at principals nationwide and found 76% of the school principals didn't have a protocol in their schools to respond to an incident of teen dating violence.