#TeensRespectTeens’s First Year at Manhasset

Mary Panetta, Entertainment Editor

One in three teens in the United States, from ages 14 to 20, have been victims of dating violence. Half of that reported violence has happened on school grounds (US Department of Education Fact Sheet). 48 percent of 7th through 12th graders experience sexual harassment, whether it be through texting, in person, or on social media (report by the American Association of University Women, Crossing the line, 2011). Victims of teen dating violence can experience depression, suicidal thoughts, and may binge drink (research done by a Cornell graduate student).

Sexual harassment and dating abuse, whether it is physical or emotional, is evident, and it’s a big problem. While many think this is a “sensitive” or “uncomfortable” topic to be discussed, especially with high schoolers, it must be. And that’s where the newly formed #teensrespectteens club comes in.

Gabby Zahn, president of the #teensrespectteens club, created this club after noticing that the issues of sexual harassment and dating abuse were so prevalent. This is the first year the club is being introduced to Manhasset High School, with the goal of promoting awareness of teen dating abuse and sexual harassment in high school and, ultimately, preventing this problem in the future. In addition, the club wishes to remove the stigma placed on victims, and provide the needed support for those who seek it.

When interviewing Gabby, I asked if there was anything she wanted to make known about this issue. She shared the following insight: “[Sexual assault] does happen, even if you haven’t been directly exposed to it. It has happened in our school, and even more so outside of Manhasset.” Though our town can be somewhat shielded, students, male and female, must be aware of the warning signs of dating abuse and should know that support is out there if sexual assault has happened to you or a loved one. The whole reason for starting this club now, said Zahn, is because “It’s important to start [education] now, at a young age”. She adds, “Speak up if you see something wrong. Don’t stay silent. If you see something wrong, or something happens to you, it’s important to say something because it can help other people speak out. It’s a chain reaction.”

The next meeting will be held Wednesday, October 25th at 7:30 in room 313. We encourage all students to attend, regardless of their gender!