Friday, February 10, 2012

Help Available for Teens and Young Adults

If you’ve had a young child in school in Macon or Dewitt counties in the last couple of decades, there’s a pretty good chance you’re familiar with Dove’s Babes’ program.

But did you know that our domestic violence program also has a staff person who goes into the schools to educate junior high and high school students about healthy relationships and domestic violence?

Joyce Kirkland, Youth Services Specialist, has been doing just that for the last 11 and a half years. “The highest rates of domestic violence fall into the age range of 16 to 25,” she stated during a breakfast addressing community members.

The fact is that one out of four young people will experience some form of dating violence in their teenage years, and over half of those victims are more likely to reach out to a friend than a parent. Unfortunately their peers don’t always know the resources, or how to help someone who’s in a violent relationship, which is where Joyce comes into the picture.

Joyce often acts as a bridge between teens and their parents, helping parents to understand what the young adult is going through and how they can help, and helping teens understand the severity of consequences that can be involved in staying in a violent or unhealthy relationship.

Though it’s difficult, she advises parents not to forbid their child from seeing the significant other, because this will only result in alienating the child and cutting off effective communication. “The best way is to express concern, but not get in their faces about it…and letting them know your door is open,” she says.

At Dove, teens under the age of 17 can receive up to five sessions of counseling without parental consent due to the mental health law, and can also call the 24-hour crisis line and remain anonymous if they are needing to speak with someone.

If you want to know more, please call 428-6616, or visit

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