El Paso

February marks Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

February marks Teen Dating Violence...

EL PASO, Texas - Throughout the month of February - a national initiative is taking place aimed at shedding light on teen dating violence.

It's meant to teach healthy relationship skills and changing norms about violence that can help prevent teen dating violence.

"Teen dating violence is more prevalent than anyone imagines. It is a hidden phenomenon," said Dr. Elizabeth Richeson, a clinical psychologist.

But Richeson has dealt with the effects teen dating violence herself.

Her granddaughter, Jennifer Ann, was murdered by her boyfriend the day after Valentines Day in 2006.

ABC-7 first spoke with Richeson after a double murder in Nov. after police said 25-year-old Jose Manuel Varela gunned down his girlfriend's father, 45-year-old Enrique Herrera, and turned the gun on his 25-year-old girlfriend Stephanie Herrera.

"Forty-Four percent of all students by the time they graduate from college and so we know that the reported number my estimate is that there is at least 50 percent of those students that are going to be in abusive relationships," Richeson said.

And for that reason Richeson and her son created Jennifer Ann's Group.

The website has various resources that can inform those dealing with teen violence including warning signs and free video games dealing with dating topics.

"Our theme this year was consent," Richeson said.

Richeson said the different video games can teach anyone from high school teens to elementary school students.

"I think that parents still need to understand that regardless about what they believe about their child they have to understand that there's a lot of things that go on that they aren't aware of and there's never too young an age to talk about these things; you just need to talk about it in age-appropriate ways," Richeson said.

The CDC said teens who are victims at a young age or in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college and throughout their lifetimes.

The Jennifer Ann Group is now working with school districts in talking to kids about teen dating violence.

If you'd like to visit the page and the video games you can click here.


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