Zero Tolerance – Teens for Social Change


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. This month, teens and those who support them join together for a national effort to raise awareness to teen dating violence. One in three teens in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by someone they are in a relationship with before they become adults. And nearly half (43%) of college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors. Here at Harbor House, we have a number of programs dedicated to serving and educating our teens including our Prevention Education Program, our Youth Program (which includes our Teen Support Group), and our Zero Tolerance Group. We asked members of our Zero Tolerance Group to be a guest writer this month to share a little about their group and what they are working towards in 2020!

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Zero Tolerance is a teen social justice group focused on issues related to anti-oppression, teen dating violence and intimate partner violence. Our members vary in age and are from a variety of schools throughout Outagamie County. We are always looking for new ways to spread awareness and be active in the community. Fun things we do include having a booth at the Downtown Appleton Farmers Market, where we talk to people about what Harbor House does and what Zero Tolerance is, and attend community events related to social issues. One event that we look forward to annually is the Teen Summit. The Teen Summit is where we attend workshops and round table discussions related to anti-violence. This year we are collaborating with End Abuse Wisconsin at the Teen Summit to encourage teens to participate in legislative action. We are doing this by giving them an opportunity to learn about the Teen Dating Violence Prevention Education Wisconsin Senate Bill 420 and Teen Dating Violence Prevention Education Wisconsin Assembly Bill 378.¬†We’ve gathered information and created postcards, so individuals who support the bills will have an opportunity to write their representatives and encourage them to do so as well. These bills are important to us, because 60% of dating teens report being in a sexually, psychologically or physically abusive relationship, and the highest number of abusive relationships occur between 16-24 years of age. In order to create change, we need to have mandatory and consistent prevention programming in our schools. If you would like to write to your local representative, download the postcard here. In future farmers’ markets, we will also have information about these bills and printed materials for community members to reach out to their representatives as well, so stop by if you see us learn more!

Zero Tolerence is always evolving and as the year continues there are other ideas we would like to pursue as well to be active within our community and spread awareness. We look forward to all that is ahead. If you are a teen who is interested in joining our group or know a teen who might be, please contact our Zero Tolerance advisor, Emily Peterson at Emily.peterson@harborhousewi.org or 920-832-1667. She will let you know the location and date of our next meeting, which are typically held every other Monday, @ 4:30 pm.

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* Thank you to our Zero Tolerance guest bloggers, Carly and Alex for drafting this post and to all of the Zero Tolerance Group members for approving the final draft!*