Teens raise awareness of dating violence

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BAY COUNTY, FLORIDA -- (WTVY) Florida teens, who are part of a youth development program called Freedom 180, spent their Monday morning raising awareness of teen dating violence.

"10% of high school students have been purposely hit, slapped, or physically hurt by a boyfriend or a girlfriend," Senior Health Educator Jonathan Cummings said.

Program officials and students gathered at the Florida Department of Health of Bay County to "chalk the sidewalk" with facts, slogans and pictures.

"It's happening a lot. People think it's not really a problem, but it really is because it's abuse to other people. We really need to know about that, we really need to speak up about that," Member of Freedom 180 Caleb Pippin said.

Officials say technology has played a role in transforming dating abuse.

"It's just not verbal abuse or physical abuse, but it's also digital," Cummings said.

"You don't have to be face to face, you can be across countries and still get abused," Member of Freedom 180 Robert Baldwin said.

"One in four dating teens are abused through technology so cyber-bullying is really becoming a big issue," Member of Freedom 180 Gary Baldwin said.

"Don't be afraid because there's always someone out there that can help," Gary said.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, Freedom 180 encourages you to call the National Dating Abuse Helpline for immediate and confidential support.

To contact the Helpline, call 1-866-331-9474, text "LOVEIS" to 22522.