LIVINGSTON, NJ — At the request of the Essex County chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), whose Teen Dating Abuse Awareness (TDAA) program educates local students about abuse in relationships, the Township of Livingston has declared February 2020 as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

In order to demonstrate how large a problem this really is, Livingston Mayor Rudy Fernandez and members of the township invited Melinda Udell, chair of the TDAA program for Essex County, to accept an official proclamation that reiterated some of the dangers involved in teen relationships.

“The numbers are just staggering,” the mayor said as he read the proclamation. “It says 10,000 cases of teen abuse are reported every year just in New Jersey and approximately 1.5-million high school students nationwide experience abuse from a dating partner every year. What this project seeks to do is educate about abuse in dating relationships by discussing the warning signs, how to break up safely [and] what constitutes a healthy relationship.”

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Fernandez said that by acknowledging National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month in Livingston, the governing body hopes to get the message out locally and also hopes that other municipalities will follow suit.

“TDAA is invited to present at high schools throughout the school year in Essex County, and we educate students on healthy relationships as well as trying to give them warning signs for emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuse,” said Udell, who attended Monday’s township council meeting along with fellow NCJW/Essex member Roberta Zacker. “On behalf of TDAA, and National Council, we’d like to thank the Township of Livingston for this proclamation helping us to do the best job that we can because one out of three teens will be in some kind of abusive relationship before they get out of their mid-20s.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that teen dating violence—which can be emotional, verbal, physical or sexual and also includes stalking—can occur in person or electronically through the use of texting, social media and other online applications.

According to the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention, teen dating violence can be prevented “when teens, families, organizations and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies.”

Visit the NCJW/Essex Facebook page to learn more.