August 25, 2016
When the Community Foundation’s Morris County Committee made a grant to Jersey Battered Women’s Service (JBWS) to help launch the Yellow Card Campaign in 2014, it was with the goal of increasing awareness of dating-related violence and, importantly, supporting a culture of safety and respect.
We are glad that JBWS’s 2015 Annual Report confirms that the campaign has made important progress to date.
“On top of the 8,068 teens reached in 2015, we presented to an additional 5,780 teens in the first half of this year,” said Patty Sly, JBWS’s Executive Director. “Students and athletes report a significantly enhanced understanding of the dating abuse issue, and in terms of taking action, the teens report greater knowledge about safe next steps and resources available for assistance. Specifically spiking in the results is the perception of coaches as knowledgeable resources in dating abuse situations.”
JBWS continues to use the Yellow Card curriculum with teens throughout Morris County schools and teams, and is already scheduling presentations for the fall.
The Annual Report also shares a story emphasizing the importance of the campaign:
Sixteen-year-old Lisa called the JBWS helpline and explained that she wanted to break up with her boyfriend, Eric, but he wouldn’t let her. The more she pulled away, the angrier and more aggressive he became, and the moreshe was blamed by her peers for messing up Eric’s life. Eric’s athletic prowess, his academic improvement, andhis relationship with Lisa provided him status. Teachers blamed Lisa for causing a scene, and the administratorsexcused Eric’s aggressive behavior as “just part of a volatile teenage dating relationship.” Left unchecked formonths, Eric’s behavior escalated. One day, he chased her into the girls’ bathroom, put his hands around herthroat, and threatened her. Lisa secured a restraining order and was able to safely end the relationship.
According to JBWS, though estimates of dating violence vary, a 2013 study funded by the National Institute of Justice found the following results from a sample of middle and high schools in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania:
- 33% of students responding reported experiencing psychological dating abuse
- 18% reported experiencing cyber dating abuse
- 21% reported experiencing physical dating violence
- 9% reported experiencing sexual coercion
The high incidence of dating violence, the lack of appropriate community and school response, and the high profile cases of domestic violence in the world of professional sports motivate JBWS to do more—in theclassroom, in the community, and in the locker room.