TeenCentral.Net has been providing teens with solid, no-nonsense advice and resources since 1998, but the latest addition to the site may be its greatest achievement. This new section is a tough, realistic discussion of domestic and dating violence that makes no attempt to soften the damage kids sustain from this growing problem. "This is one of those topics that isn't discussed much among teens," says TeenCentral.Net Director Dr. Julius Licata. "There is shame associated with being abused or witnessing a parent or other family member suffering abuse that makes this a taboo subject." According to Licata, teens also feel that any abuse from family or boy or girlfriends is their fault and treatment they deserve. "This section of our website is designed to give teens information on domestic and dating abuse and teach them where to get help anywhere in the world," according to Licata.
Designed in a graphic novel format, this section is very gripping and stark in its presentation. It discusses the feelings teens have about abuse, simple examples of what constitutes domestic or dating abuse, where to turn for help and how to stand up to an abuser and find a safer place. "We tried to answer potential questions teens might ask about the subject," Licata explains, "and give them all of the information they need to contact a person or organization for support and extrication from the situation." He adds, "It is never easy to stand up to abusers, whether they are parents or the person you are dating, especially since there are typically self esteem issues for the abused teen. We hope that we can convince our members that they are valuable people who do not deserve abuse. We also want to instruct all teens to look for signs of abuse in family members or friends and offer their support."
Another feature of this new section is an interactive board game that allows teens to learn about domestic and dating abuse through a series of questions, which, if answered correctly, move your play piece around the board. If a teen does not do well in the game, she can re-read the information and try again until she wins. "We hope to change the lives of many teens who are suffering needlessly at the hands of adult or peer abusers and encourage friends to recognize the signs of abuse and offer assistance to a peers who are in abusive relationships," says Licata. The development of this new section was made possible by a grant from Verizon.
TeenCentral.Net is a free, anonymous website sponsored by KidsPeace, the organization that has been providing services to children and adolescents since 1882. TeenCentral.Net has always been a forum where teens could express their every thought and receive nonjudgmental answers to their most intimate questions. Master's level counselors read each posting before publishing and respond to every posting within 24 hours. The site contains postings from many of its 590,000 members, celebrity stories about overcoming problems in their teens, news aimed at teens, a section on weight awareness, a guide for quitting smoking and recommendations about books that appeal to teens. Hundreds of volunteers assist in the operation of this website, and the growing number of monthly hits speaks to the popularity of this site. Access the site at http://www.teencentral.net/ and learn about all of the features that appeal so to teens. The site also has a Facebook page that has a growing following as well.