Teenagers face many forms
of violence and abuse
This is why Tre Davis of the Lake Stevens Family Center sponsored the Youth Forum on Violence last Thursday night, which focused on all types of violence that teenagers can experience.
“I wanted to represent all aspects of teen violence,” Davis said.
Everything from violence in dating to self-mutilation can affect a teen’s everyday life and many feel helpless in controlling the situations in which they find themselves.
The forum included a panel of three students from Lake Stevens who have suffered from different types of abuse.
Alicia Inderkim, Jake Smith and Samantha Campbell were all eager to share their experiences with the audience in hopes of making them aware of just what they are facing each day and to offer solutions.
When you first look at these kids you may get the impression that they aren’t “normal” teenagers, you may even be a little intimidated by them.
However, after talking to them and hearing them speak you realize that they are just like the rest of us with fears, hopes and dreams. They just want to be treated with equality and respect.
“I want to show people that we are not violent, just normal teenagers,” Samantha said.
Each of these kids shared experiences they have had with other teenagers bullying them, beating them up and harassing them for what they see as no other reason than looking different.
“We are excited to let people know that just because we may look different we aren’t,” said Kandi Fieck, a friend of the teenagers on the panel.
Violence in dating seems to play a big role in high school dating.
According to statistics shared by the Forum:
• one in five females reported physical and/or sexual abuse by a dating partner;
• 36.4 percent of teen girls and 37.1 percent of teen boys report receiving some form of physical aggression in dating;
• approximately 43 percent of teen dating violence victims reported that the dating abuse occurred in a school building or on the school grounds;
• 40 percent of teenage girls know of someone who has been beaten by a boyfriend
• 30 percent of all murdered teenage girls are killed by a current or former boyfriend.
Some teens who find themselves being bullied, in controlling relationships or other violent situations can turn to self-mutilation, anorexia, bulimia or even suicide.
“I’ve been beaten up on a number of occasions where I’ve done nothing wrong except dress differently. I wanted to kill myself,” Jake said.
He added that he found a release in music. Now when he is feeling vulnerable he picks up his guitar and plays the music that brings him peace.
“There’s a way to stop violence against yourself,” Jake said, “Find a vent.”
The teens encouraged parents to ask their kids if they are getting attacked verbally, physically or in any other way. Open up a dialogue and eventually most teens will start talking.
They also said that when back-handed comments are made or when other teens speak out of ignorance, feelings can be hurt. However, when you see a face behind the comments it makes people more aware that another human being may be getting hurt.
“Acceptance is the key,” Alicia said, adding the Buddhist saying, “Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.”
For more information on ways to help teens in trouble, contact the Lake Stevens Family Center at 425-397-7433.