Unfortunately, teen dating abuse in high schools nationwide is all too common. Nationwide, 9.4 percent of students reported being hit, slapped, or physically hurt intentionally by their partner in the previous 12 months, according to CDC youth risk behavior data collected from 2011 to 2021.

Physical violence, however, is not always the case. Dating abuse can occur in different forms, including verbal, emotional, sexual, psychological, stalking, and digital through social media.

To raise awareness of teen dating abuse and to help prevent dating violence, the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office is working with local schools to talk to young people about abusive relationships and make them aware that dating violence of any kind is not accepted.

Sheriff Mike Tregre, Lt. Ann Taylor, Lt. Christie Chauvin and Lt. Jared Seruntine visited the adult responsibility class at Riverside Academy in Reserve on March 21, 2023 to address dating abuse, date rape drugs and the role of law enforcement in assault cases.

Sheriff Tregre and the officers spoke on a variety of topics such as the warning signs of an abusive relationship, who to call for help, general safety tips and date planning, date rape drugs, and effects of dating violence.

“Many teens who are involved in abusive dating relationships don’t tell anyone,” Lt. Taylor said. “They’re ashamed. They’re afraid they will be judged …. or no one will believe them. … But, it’s important for the victim to tell someone – their parents, a teacher, a trusted friend, …. or call 911. … Not telling anyone can lead to serious lifelong consequences … health problems …. mental issues.”

Lt. Seruntine advised students to pour their own drinks, never leave a drink or food unattended, stay with friends and let someone know where you are going and who you are with.

Teen dating violence is a crime, Lt. Chauvin told the group of juniors and seniors. Abusive sexual behavior committed against a minor by another minor or adult should be reported to law enforcement.

Safety should always be the priority, the officers said. For help related to dating or relationship abuse, officers advised students to call the SJSO at 985-652-9513, the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault at 888-995-7273; Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network at 800-656-4673 or the Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response at 855-435-7827.