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“We want to come up with things that help their self-esteem and make them feel included.” In the three years these Angels have been giving up their lunch periods to brainstorm ideas for promoting dating violence awareness through creative events, they believe they’ve made a difference.

Teens and parents are invited to Catamount Connections at 504 Main Street in Bennington on Tuesday, February 26, for a forum on teen dating violence from to p.m. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and sponsors Project Against Violent Encounters (PAVE), ACT Bennington, and Catamount Connections are helping to create awareness and help stop teen dating abuse before it starts.

Teen dating violence — also called intimate relationship violence or intimate partner violence among adolescents or adolescent relationship abuse — includes physical, psychological or sexual abuse; harassment; or stalking of any person ages 12 to 18 in the context of a past or present romantic or consensual relationship.

Building off a long history of research in the area of intimate partner violence, NIJ is now looking to relationships during adolescence to understand the factors that put individuals at risk for involvement in abusive romantic relationships as adults.

This effort began with a series of workshops in 20 that culminated in the development and coordination of a federal interagency workgroup. NIJ has also funded research examining the nature, characteristics and extent of dating violence; risk and protective factors; long-term and short-term outcomes; and systematic evaluations of teen dating violence prevention and intervention programs, policies and legislation.