By: Detective Meghan Broderick, Troy Police Department
This year, for the first time, Oakland County Coordinating Council Against Domestic Violence (OCCCADV) is sponsoring a creative arts contest to engage youth in raising awareness about healthy dating relationships. This contest, themed “Say Yes to Respect in the OC,” comes as part of a larger effort to increase awareness of domestic violence among Oakland County’s youth.
I became involved with this effort as a police officer with the Troy Police Department. Over the past four years, I have served as a detective focused primarily on juvenile issues and have witnessed firsthand the challenges encountered by today’s youth. Among these challenges is the pressure to conform to societal standards regarding dating relationships. Sadly, relationships characterized by a lack of respect are not rare. Even more alarming is the fact that this lack of respect can evolve into criminal behavior or lifelong behavior focused on intimidating and controlling others.
I have found that most youth are not familiar with the term “domestic violence” or think of it as something only impacting adults. When I have talked with teens about the behavior that constitutes what we know as “domestic violence,” I learned that these behaviors are actually common among our teens. As a school liaison officer, I noticed that one of the more frequent examples of this is threats and intimidation aimed at a partner via Facebook or other social media. In addition, use of technology to facilitate constant unwanted contact and monitor one party in the relationship is not uncommon. Per the CDC, around 10% of U.S. teens report being physically assaulted by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year.
The goal of the creative arts contest is to get Oakland County youth thinking about what it means to give and receive respect in a dating relationship. Ultimately, as a police officer, I am concerned with the reduction of criminal behavior and public safety. By the time matters involving abusive relationships get to police, years of unhealthy and abusive behaviors have likely come before. I believe that raising awareness about these issues will promote respectful behavior and understanding among our teens, and lead to less need for police intervention in their current and future relationships.
Entries for the contest are due April 14, 2012 and winners will be showcased at events through the next year and will also receive financial rewards from $500 to $1,000. Categories for entry include, but are not limited to, music, photography, videography, 2 or 3 dimensional art, publicity designs and creative writing. Unlike many other scholarship contests, there is no minimum GPA requirement.
Questions about the contest can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.