Violence in Teen Relationships

You’re sitting in a darkened room listening to a recording of a nine year old beg a 911 operator to send help, to make his father stop beating his mother. This scene isn’t a bad dream: It was the opening moment of the November 1998 Teens on TRAC (Teen Relationship Abuse Conference), a day-long event planned, staffed and attended by New York-area teenagers. The conference, sponsored by the UJA-Federation Task Force on Family Violence and Federal Employment Guidance Service, hoped to teach teenagers to recognize the symptoms of family and relationship violence and gear them toward social action.

Over 60 females and 60 males attended last year Teens on TRAC. According to Evelyn Roth, the head of the Task Force and vice president of FEGS, the majority of attendees came because they knew someone in an abusive relationship. Teens attended a variety of workshops including: “One Survivor’s Experience,” “A Sociology of Violence,” “Psychological and Emotional Issues in Abusive Relationships,” and “Spiritual Perspectives.” Throughout the conference, counselors were available for anyone who needed emotional support. As a follow-up, participants joined in a lobbying trip to Albany, New York, this February and found a State Senate sponsor for a bill that would require public schools to develop a curriculum on family violence for grades K-12.

A second Teens on TRAC conference is scheduled for November at the State University of New York at Farmingdale, Long Island. For more information, call: (516) 496-7550.