Online campaign to teens: dating abuse is #NotJustPhysical

- February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and the second Tuesday of the month is Wear Orange for Love Day.

Orange is the official color of teen dating violence awareness. Local and state officials are announcing a new campaign "Teen Dating Abuse Is #NotJustPhysical."

"It is often less obvious and can be verbal—saying or texting demeaning things, calling someone names, tracking their every move, sharing photos without their knowledge or permission," said Gwen Wright, the executive director of the state's Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.

Each year, approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner, according to a recent study. Another study found that 1 in 3 teens reports online abuse.

The epidemic of teen dating violence is a year-round issue, according to officials. They encourage everyone to use the hashtag #NotJustPhysical to raise awareness that help is available.

Colleen Merlo of L.I. Against Domestic Violence said talking to your children is important.

"Only 9 percent of teens seek help. We need to change that and this hashtag can help do that," Merlo said. "You want to be careful that you're not being accusatory or putting the person on the defense."

Merlo added that whatever your teen tells you, believe them.

The #NotJustPhysical campaign will use apps, including Snapchat and Instagram, to put resources and education materials in the hands of teens in middle and high school.

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