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Indiana prosecutors aiming to stop teen dating violence

Valerie Harvey.jpg
Ryan Mears.jpg
Posted at 2:31 PM, Feb 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-08 14:31:26-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The Marion County Prosecutor's Office wants to give teens the tools to stand up to violence in their relationships.

"The way they learn how to date now and the types of behaviors that they have in these teen dating relationships, they take those relationship tendencies into their adult relationships," Deputy Prosecutor Valerie Harvey said. "If they don't figure out a way to correct those behaviors, they're just going to repeat those types of behaviors as they become adults."

Harvey visits schools and youth organizations across the county to teach kids and parents how to recognize the signs of problem relationships.

Valerie Harvey.jpg
Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Valerie Harvey

"A lot of red flags, specifically with our youth today, involve the phones," Harvey said. "So when you have a partner who is trying to have access to your phone; when they are trying to get your password; when they want to put a location on you; that is a super red flag that you may be in a relationship that you need to think twice about."

About 37% of Hoosier high school girls and 18% of high school boys reported that someone they were dating tried to control or emotionally hurt them, according to the 2021 Indiana Department of Health Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The same survey found that about 1-in-10 Indiana students reported being forced to kiss, touch or have sex with someone.

Prosecutor Ryan Mears said he hopes these presentations can break the cycle of domestic violence before it sets in.

"We're hopeful that when we work with with teens, we can keep them out of these abusive relationships," Mears said. "If we can get someone out of a unhealthy relationship when they're 18, they're way less likely to be involved in a domestic violence relationship moving forward."

Ryan Mears.jpg
Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears

The Teen Dating Violence Prevention presentations last about an hour and are free for interested schools and community groups. Harvey said she did 45 presentations last year.

To request a presentation for your group, email Harvey at valerie.harvey@indy.gov.

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at victor.ryckaert@wrtv.com or on X/Twitter: @vicryc.