By Taylor Provost
As Public Safety informed students via email, January was Stalking Awareness Month. Less publicized throughout Olivet’s campus has been February’s national theme of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention, “a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen and 20-something relationships and promote programs that prevent it,” according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month has been nationally revitalized this year because of Congress’ reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 2013.
The act aims to bring national awareness to crimes such as sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking through a designated month of public education and awareness activities.
Olivet’s Department of Public Safety has put less emphasis on Teen Dating Violence month in comparison with its active approach to stalking awareness last month. Mass emails were sent out and posters were hung up across campus throughout the month of January.
“We have learned that mass emails were not the preferred way students, faculty and staff want[ed] to receive this information,” Director of Public Safety, Dale Newsome said. “We are looking at other means of communicating to everyone without being bothersome. We want to ensure that email from the Department of Public Safety is taken seriously and not disregarded or treated as junk mail.”
However, students speculate various reasons as to why this month’s theme has been less publicized on campus than stalking awareness was.
“It’s especially important to raise awareness and address how to resolve those kinds of situations,” Freshman Austin Siscoe said. “The only problem is [teen dating violence awareness] has been shoved in our faces since we were 14. It’s almost as if we’re a generation aware of the idea of abuse within relationships, but with all the overexposure we really don’t care to hear anymore.”
Freshman Megan York had other ideas as to why February’s theme has been less publicized.
“It’s not a focus [on campus] because it’s negative,” she said. “Just like everything else that we don’t hear about like sex trafficking, domestic and elder abuse, and other worldly issues that are covered up,” York explained. “I think it’s important to spread awareness because for those who have dealt with or are involved with [teen dating violence] currently, [awareness] can help them figure out how to get help.”
York added awareness is useful for individuals regardless of personal relationship status. “It is helpful for single people to notice signs [of abuse] for themselves for future use, or to help a friend that could be dealing with the situation.”
According to Newsome, “Dating Violence” has been added to the hate crime list in Public Safety’s records, along with the addition of domestic violence and stalking. In part with VAWA, the policy requires the department’s Annual Security Report to promote educational programs and awareness of rape, acquaintance rape, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
“Our goal is to establish a partnership with representatives of Student Development and Counseling Services and together establish programs for both the students, faculty and staff,” Newsome said.