On Record with Nia, Teen Advisory Board Member
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet over Zoom with one of our Teen Advisory Board Members, Nia. She is a 17-year-old senior at Richmond County Technical Magnet School who has served on the TAB since her sophomore year.
She loves to hang with friends, shop, and has a part time job in retail. She is really passionate about her role on the Board and spreading awareness about warning signs of abuse and support resources. Next year, she'll be heading off to the Loyola University New Oreleans as she pursues her dreams of becoming a lawyer. By all major accounts, you could describe her has a girl who has so many positive things going for her and we're proud she represents SafeHomes. But what struck me most of our conversation was her description of the impact of technology and the allure of toxicity in high school dating relationships.
She described a trend that has become very normalized and that is for teens to say "I'm in a toxic relationship".
"They are aware it's unhealthy, and they enjoy it. It's really sad, but it's hard to find someone in my age group who wants a healthy relationship," said Nia.
She went on to share that they really don't know what "traditional dating" is...
"You send a text, --hey, i'm outside-- "
"It's always technology. Once you get to the restaurant, you're both on your phones 'til your food comes out."
We discussed how the Pandemic has impacted teen dating violence, and because many are doing learn from home, and / or may live with their gaurdian, they may be physically safer or less at risk, but the mental health aspect has been very hard.
"You still have social media, text messages, that you can't run from. Social media has such a heavy impact on my generation I think because if we aren't on social media we are probably not IRL stuff (in real life). Some poeple take their arguments to social media and it gets really agressive, and then bullying comes into play. I really do not know anyone who doesn't have social media...they may not have certain apps, but they all have something, mostly Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat."
Nia went on to also recognize that it is ultimatley about the root of the problem...
"Not knowing what's right and what's wrong. Some people don't know because of family history. They may say my momma went through this, so it is what it is. Or my momma didn't teach me this so I don't know. I've never had a lesson about domestic violence from school. My parents have taught me things like not to let someone put their hands on me, but a lot of people don't have that foundation. Most of what I learned about this subject has been from SafeHomes so my vision for the TAB is to just spread as much awareness as we can. I hope we can reach so many people because it is so important."
We don't have all the answers, and the fact is and willremain that tehcnology is part of our culture and our lives. But I do think the more we can educate teens, who can educate other teens, the better impact we will make. The TAB members have opportunities to present locally and sometimes even regionally, about dating violence, and they are true leaders. Applications are accepted typically in the summer for the upcoming school year. If you or your child are interested in learning more about the TAB, please contact us and we will connect you with the appropriate staff member.
-By Jennifer Frantom