DA Leone Announces PSA Project For High School Students

To Speak Out Against Teen Dating Violence


            WOBURN - April 1, 2009 - In an effort to spark a positive dialogue amongst young people and help prevent instances of teen dating violence, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone (File photo)today announced a new initiative in which high school students will produce their own Public Service Announcement videos designed to speak out against teen dating violence.


            The project, created in conjunction with Middlesex Partnerships For Youth, Inc. and REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, was announced in a letter distributed today by District Attorney Leone to superintendents in the 54 communities of Middlesex County. The winning PSA will be distributed to be aired on Boston television stations.


            “The time is now to spark a new dialogue about teen dating violence,” District Attorney Leone said. “We believe the most effective communicators about this issue are young people themselves. The goal is for students to use these PSAs as a forum to communicate a direct, positive message to other teens to help prevent teen dating violence.”


REACH Executive Director Laura Van Zandt is excited about the initiative. "Leadership from peers is critical to changing how teens define their dating relationships,” Van Zandt said. “Dating abuse is about power and control. Talking about what makes a relationship unhealthy, or being a friend to someone in an abusive relationship, can be really hard. This contest is a fun and creative way for youth in Middlesex County to set the tone for the conversation and make it clear that they will not ignore unhealthy relationships. Instead, they will step up and speak out." 


            Teen dating violence has been a focus of the District Attorney’s Office and Domestic Violence service organizations like REACH. However, the recent incident in which pop star Chris Brown was charged with allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Rihanna, has placed a new spotlight on this troubling dynamic.


            Among the statistics that demonstrate the challenges we face regarding the issue of teen dating violence include:


  • 1 in 3 teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner

  • Youth, specifically between the ages of 16 to 24, experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence in the nation

  • Following news reports on the alleged incident between Chris Brown and Rihanna, a survey of Boston teens revealed that 46% of respondents believed that Rihanna was in some way responsible. In addition, 44% said that fighting was a normal part of a relationship


To enter, high school students from Middlesex County communities are asked to produce and submit their own 30 or 60-second PSA about the issue of teen dating violence. Topics could include, but are not limited to:


  • Speaking out against abuse

  • Understanding that physical and verbal abuse is never an acceptable part of a healthy relationship

  • Recognizing abusive behavior or an abusive relationship

  • Stepping in and standing up to abusive behavior by a friend


Entries can be submitted by individual students, student groups, classes or sports teams. Students must submit their PSAs no later than May 14.


Upon receiving the entries, a panel of students, educators, domestic violence experts, and members of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office will review the entries. Boston advertising and PR agency Conover Tuttle Pace (ctpboston.com) will work with the students to professionally edit and produce the winning videos. The winning PSA will then be submitted to all Boston television stations.


Students, teachers, or parents with questions about the Teen Dating Violence PSA Project can contact Margie Daniels at 781-897-6808.


            To learn more about teen dating violence, please visit:

·        www.reachma.org/pavenet

·        http://www.loveisnotabuse.com

·        http://www.safeyouth.org/scripts/topics/dateviolence.asp


Since he began serving as Middlesex District Attorney in January 2007, Leone has launched a number of initiatives to better serve victims and enhance the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence cases. Leone created the office’s Domestic Violence Unit, a team of specific prosecutors and victim witness advocates charged with investigating and prosecuting DV cases. That unit also offers comprehensive trainings for local police departments as well as organizes community-based Domestic Violence Roundtables throughout the county. In addition, Leone created a first-of-its-kind program to help victims of domestic violence during the restraining order process. Specifically, because prosecutors are not allowed to represent victims during that process, Leone’s office has partnered with two private firms to help assure that victims are afforded pro bono legal services during these restraining order hearings that are critical in helping victims extricate themselves from abusive relationships. Leone’s office has also partnered with organizations to form community-based DV rapid response programs.


For more information on this PSA project, please visit www.middlesexda.com.

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