Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has proclaimed February 2014 as Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month in New York State, and he encourages all New Yorkers to participate in the state’s new "Send a Candy Heart" social media campaign during February.
Coordinated by the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV), the campaign encourages people to let friends know they are concerned about teen dating violence by taking a photo of themselves holding oversized, paper versions of candy conversation hearts that feature the words, "I will…" followed by something they will commit to do, such as "talk to my children about healthy relationships." Then they can share the photo on social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, along with the hash tag #tdvcandyhearts.
OPDV Executive Director Gwen Wright said, "The idea for this campaign was generated by our existing ‘This Isn’t Love’ poster, in which the traditional candy heart messages are turned upside down by showing messages of control and abuse instead of love and happiness. The poster has been popular for years and we thought it was time to go viral with a positive message that everyone can do something to bring awareness to this issue."
Girls and young women ages 16-24 are at the highest risk of dating violence. The federal Centers for Disease Control calls dating violence a public health problem noting that a survey of adult victims of rape, intimate partner violence and stalking indicated that 15 percent of men and 22 percent of women had first been abused by a partner when they were between 11 and 17 years old.
The virtual sweet treat campaign was launched today in Albany at the Alfred E. Smith State Office Building, which is home to OPDV and other state agency offices. People on their way to and from work participated by filling out a paper heart and having their photos uploaded to OPDV’s Instagram and other social media sites: Instagram: @NYSOPDV, Twitter: @NYSOPDV and Facebook: www.facebook.com/nysdomesticviolence , using the #tdvcandyhearts hash tag.
New Yorkers are encouraged to join the effort and continue throughout the month of February.
OPDV’s teen and young adult-specific website, "Respect Love, Love Respect" (www.respectlove.opdv.ny.gov), and its companion Facebook page, (www.facebook.com/RespectLoveNYS), have a variety of resources to assist teens their parents, young adults and others interested in learning about how to prevent teen dating violence or assist someone who may be in harm’s way.
New York is the only state in the nation to have an executive-level agency that has the sole mission of fighting and preventing domestic violence. Since taking office, Gov. Cuomo has made strengthening the state and local response to domestic violence, a crime which disproportionately affects women and children, a priority.
Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including teens, can seek help 24 hours a day by calling New York State’s toll-free hotline: 1-800-942-6906.
There are also programs statewide that provide direct services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including counseling and emergency shelter for victims and their children. Information about those programs is available via the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence website: www.nyscadv.org. The New York State Office of Victim Services (www.ovs.ny.gov) also funds 186 programs that assist crime victims across the state.
The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (www.opdv.ny.gov) is charged with improving the response of state and local communities to domestic violence. OPDV provides guidance to Executive staff on policy and legislation; conducts statewide community outreach and public education programs; and trains professionals on addressing domestic violence in a wide array of disciplines, including child welfare, law enforcement and health care.