By Noah Kim
A free cell phone application launched Wednesday by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence aims to prevent dating violence in teenagers.
The app, called “teen dating 411” and designed as part of Teen Dating Awareness Month, explains to adolescents how to identify potentially abusive behaviors. The app also instructs teens on how to stay safe if their partners begin to behave aggressively, as well as listing ways that adolescents may reach out to one of the state’s 18 domestic violence organizations.
Karen Jarmoc, chief executive officer of the CCADV said adolescents often find it difficult to identify when their partners are acting extremely possessive or jealous.
“If I’m a young person who might be in a relationship for the very first time, and my significant other is texting 40 times a day and asking prying questions, that might seem flattering on its face, but really, they’re elements of very controlling behavior,” Jormac said. “This app will help them realize that.”
Jarmoc also said the app aims to share information with teens who may be uncomfortable speaking about these issues with parents and teachers.
According to a 2011 survey conducted by the CCADV, one in three teens nationwide report being physically, sexually or emotionally hurt by their partner. In Connecticut, 17 percent of high school students report being emotionally abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend and 8 percent report being physically hurt. Furthermore, the survey found that only 32 percent of teens in abusive relationships end up confiding in their parents.
The CCADV’s Director of Diversity and Accessibility and td411’s Project Director Wendy Kasango said the recently launched app is an updated version of one the group originally designed for a 2011 release. The CCADV eventually opted out of distributing the 2011 app because it wanted to make the app more user-friendly. Between 2011 and 2014, the organization had focus groups composed entirely of teenagers test and comment on the app. Based on the responses of 50,000 teens, CCADV added several new features to the app, including video tutorials, links to the websites of domestic violence organization as well as an option to view the app in Spanish.
The CCADV held a press conference last Wednesday to advertise td411. The organization hopes to further publicize it via its website and during domestic violence training sessions that it holds for high school students.
Jill Spineti, president of The Governor’s Prevention Partnership — an organization dedicated to addressing youth issues — cited the app as a valuable step forward in correcting dating abuse.
“All teens can benefit from using this app by gaining insight into their behavior and learning how to reach out for help when they want to make a change,” she said in a Wednesday press release.
Caroline Treiss, Executive Director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women said in a written statement to the News that she applauded the CCADV for developing an “ingenious way to reach young people via technology.”
Td411 is available on the iTunes store and the Android Google Play Pen.