Agency launches dating violence awareness initiative
By John McPhaul
To educate on the development of healthy relationships among adolescents based on equality and free of violence, the Help Center for Rape Victims (CAVV by its Spanish initials), which is attached to the Department of Health, launched on Sunday the campaign “Prevention, Alert and Awareness of Dating Violence and Dating Sexual Assault.”
The initiative comes within the framework of Dating Violence Prevention and Alert month, in an effort to send out an awareness message about the prevention of dating violence.
“Violence does not discriminate. It is a problem that is attacking our society, which does not exclude formal education, social or economic status and occurs in both adults and adolescents,” said Dr. Marilú Cintrón Casado, the assistant secretary of family health and integrated services of the Department of Health, in a written statement. “Specifically, those first steps of interest occur mostly in adolescence where a special friendship must be based on mutual respect, communication, the absence of threats, trust and consent. We must instill in our children and adolescents the importance of creating healthy bonds.”
The official added that “parents are the first role models for every individual, so it is essential to train future parents in the use of nonviolent disciplinary methods, as a mechanism to provide example behaviors appropriate to the new generations.”
“As part of the measures and efforts to eradicate this social evil, it is necessary to promote prevention from childhood, training with social and emotional skills for the proper resolution of conflicts, good treatment and healthy relationships between couples,” Cintrón Casado said. “We have to reinforce this process because if we don’t address the situation now, these [young people] will be the next [generation of] aggressors.”
For 2019, according to data generated by the Youth Behavior Surveillance System, which collects information from the island’s public schools, it was estimated that 8,500 high school students in Puerto Rico were victims of bullying during the year prior to the interviews, while 8,400 reported being victims of sexual assault at some point in their lives and 4,300 were victims of sexual violence during a date.
Dr. María Rebecca Ward, director of the CAVV, said the initiative is in alignment with Law 89 of June 19, 2015, which is aimed at informing and educating the Puerto Rican population about the mistreatment that is generated in the adolescent age group and which can have fatal consequences.
“We have to educate; our call is for citizens to be part of the campaign, to download the publications with prevention messages and share them on their social networks so that the information reaches as many people as possible,” Ward said. “Youth and the general population can join the effort to share content with valuable data on their social networks using #HealthyDating and #PARE. It is a small action with which they will contribute so that friends and family can learn about and prevent this social problem.”
The CAVV prepared an informational kit for the prevention, warning and awareness of dating violence and sexual assault on dates that can be accessed through its virtual magazine at https://cavvsaludpr.weebly.com/kit.
For more information or if support is needed, the CAVV Helpline (787-765-2285) is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.