Spring is always a busy and exciting time for JF&CS TeenSafe, our group dedicated to preventing teen dating abuse in the Jewish community. Like many other youth programs, we were moving at full speed when so many things began to shut down quickly and completely in the middle of March.

Fortunately, participants in TeenSafe were able to pivot and start meeting on Zoom to continue their activities. Together with the TeenSafe Fellow, our teenage peer leaders are offering virtual workshops on healthy and unhealthy dating relationships, working on a year-end impact project and creatively getting the word out that “Love Should Be Safe.”

At a time that has been marked by isolation, disappointment, disruption and loss for many teenagers, TeenSafe is connecting and engaging them, continuing “business as usual” knowing that nothing is “as usual.”

Help Us Find Our New Peer Leaders

Now, many weeks into this new normal, we are planning for the fall with the hope that we will meet in person (but ready to continue via Zoom if necessary). Raising awareness among teens and adults about dating abuse and how to prevent it remains a crucial issue. Research tells us that one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

TeenSafe works to change that statistic by helping teens and adults recognize controlling or abusive behavior and know what to do when they experience, witness or hear about it. Workshops are planned and conducted by the TeenSafe Fellow and trained peer leaders. TeenSafe peer leaders earn community service hours for their participation.

There are a few ways you can help TeenSafe find our next group of peer leaders:

1. Please share this flier to spread the word that we are looking for rising sophomores, juniors and seniors to join the TeenSafe 2020-2021 peer leader cohort.

2. Please encourage educators and youth advisors to forward our flier and to reach out to us to schedule a program for their students.

3. Follow TeenSafe on Instagram and please spread the word about TeenSafe on your own social media channels.

4. Invite your friends to join TeenSafe for a Zoom Open House on June 3 where teens and parents can learn more about our program.

Thank you so much for your help! If someone you know is interested in TeenSafe, please have them email our TeenSafe Fellow at teensafe@jfcsboston.org. We wish you all a happy and healthy spring!

If you or someone you know would like to speak with someone about a potentially controlling or abusive dating relationship, the National Dating Abuse Helpline, Loveisrespect, is continuing to respond to calls, texts and online chat requests (866-331-8453 or text “loveis” to 22522). This service is available 24/7.

Elizabeth Schön Vainer is the director of JF&CS Journey to Safety.

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