Teen volunteers provide support for peers experiencing partner violence

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Wake County organization hopes to bring more awareness to teen dating violence.

Brianna Clarke-Schwelm works for Interact, a Wake County non-profit that hopes to fight domestic violence in the Triangle.

"This does shock a lot of people that teen dating violence is so prevalent," said Clarke-Schwelm.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of all teenagers will be involved in a physically, emotionally and/or sexually abusive relationship.

Clarke-Schwelm said Interact tried to combat the early onset of domestic violence among teens, but the agency realized its approach wasn't working.

"There are students in the classroom that are really not hearing us because we, like their teachers, like their parents, are adults," Clarke-Schwelm said. "They really needed to hear it from their peers."

That's why Interact now has teen volunteers like Erin Secosky, a 16-year-old student at Raleigh's Enloe High School.

"You have that shared sense of being a teenager and people are often more willing to listen to you than they are to adults because it's seen as condescending sometimes," Secosky said.

Wednesday, Feb. 12, Interact will sponsor a screening of a Netflix documentary about dating violence and cyber bullying among teens.

Afterward, peer educators like Erin Secosky will lead a discussion they hope will help reduce domestic violence.

"If we can teach people how to have healthy relationships and what to look out for to avoid red flags, I think it can really promote safer futures for teens," Secosky said.

If you would like for your teen to learn more about those red flags you can register them for tomorrow's documentary screening here.

And if you would like to reach out to Interact for more information for your child, you can email them youthservices@interactofwake.org.
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