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Using Twitter for Social Good: Raising Awareness on the effects of Teen Dating Abuse

Arroyo High School Students - During Love is Respect El Monte Twitter Party

In the city of El Monte California: KCETLink Youth Voices participants from Arroyo High School and Mountain View High School hosted a Twitter Party to raise awareness on Teen Dating Abuse -- and if you're asking yourself, why is raising awareness important? -- well according to a study published by The U.S. Department of Justice and Statistics, girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner abuse, almost triple the national average. It's this alarming statistic that urged the students to think of creative ways to inform and raise awareness -- and thus why the student investigation and reporting project, with the name of, Love is Respect El Monte and the partnering hashtag #LoveisRespectEM was born. The project is the product of the Youth Voices Media Literacy and Civic Journalism community initiative -- where high schools students investigate the social, cultural, and political histories to create a critical analysis and reporting project to local current community issues.

Today, social media plays a pivotal part in everyone's lives, but for current high school students who have grown-up in the digital information era, social media is simply part of their DNA. According to a 2014 report of social media trends in the United States by Business Insider, Twitter is one of the four most used social media mobile and web platforms among high school students -- the three other are Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat. Making the connection between Twitter and the complex topic of Teen Dating Abuse was not an easy task. Initially all students participating in the project attended a Teen Dating Abuse workshop hosted by Break the Cycle, where students learned to better understand the social and cultural factors that can lead to abuse in any relationship. Because social media is a huge part of young peoples lives it became clear a Twitter party would be an effective way to engage local high school students, adults, and community resources to engage in an awareness campaign.

Jennifer and Jasmine, Mountain View High School Students - During Love is Respect El Monte Twitter Party
Jennifer and Jasmine, Mountain View High School Students - During Love is Respect El Monte Twitter Party

If you can imagine the last high school dance you attended (...way back when) you're probably thinking of DJ playing dance music and a handful of couples trying not to die of embarrassment, because their so-called friends are judging their newly found dance moves from the sidelines. The light reflections from the 70's disco ball or those awful green rave lights that make it hard to see if anyone is remotely having any type of fun. Or the fact you're all dressed up just to see the same people you see day-after-day. Well, I hope I don't burst your bubble, because that's not what happens at a Twitter Party. The best way to describe a twitter party is a one-hour conversation hosted on Twitter, where all participants respond to a series of questions followed with the hashtag #LoveisRespectEM. In the case of Love is Respect El Monte, all of the questions were crafted to raise awareness on the effects of dating abuse among teens; and identify resources in the San Gabriel Valley.

Dating abuse affects everyone regardless of their sexual and gender orientation and when it comes to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) youth researchers from The Urban Institute, in Washington DC found that 43% of LGBTQ youth reported being victims of physical dating violence, compared to just 29% of heterosexual youth. The Numbers were even higher for victims of emotional abuse: 59% of LGBTQ youth versus 46% of heterosexual youth. The report surveyed 3,745 grade school students who reported being in a relationship or having been in one during the school year of 2011. The San Gabriel Valley has limited resources to address the needs of the LGBTQ community, so students felt it was important to identify how to better inform everyone careless of their sexual and gender orientation. So the question was asked: How does Teen Dating Abuse affect LGBTQ youth? and here are some of the responses:

To see the complete archive of the twitter party please visit our Storify page.

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