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BEND, OR -- A local advocacy group for victims of domestic violence will launch a special group, this month, to raise awareness among teens. Erin Rook, with Bend-based Saving Grace, says high school students will lead the new Youth Anti-Violence Council and develop ways to help their friends. "As adults, we don’t really talk about issues of domestic and sexual violence on a regular basis; I think that’s true of young people, as well. Certainly, they talk about relationships a lot, because relationships are such a primary part of being a young person. If we can incorporate some of that language around healthy relationships and what to look for, that’ll give them a little more information and knowledge and skills."


Rook says the YAVC is already gaining traction at Summit High, in Bend. "Since February is Teen Dating violence Awareness month, it seems like a good time to kind of get the word out about that. We’re hoping within the next month or so, to identify students who are interested and get together an initial meeting to kind of get everyone on the same page, see what kind of ideas and interest the students have and what kind of support they can use from us to make that happen." The goal is to eventually have Council representatives at all high schools in the region. "Our Youth Violence Prevention Specialist does presentations in local high schools already, so we have some good established relationships there," Rook tells KBND News. "She’s going to be helping us spread the word, as well as posters, flyers and other kinds of contact we have."
 
Saving Grace will hold a training session February 15 for adults who want to support the new group. According to the nonprofit, nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in an intimate relationship continue to date their abuser. 
 
Students, parents, and educators interested in learning more about the YAVC should contact erin@saving-grace.org for more details.

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