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In recognition of February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan has launched a new mobile application for iPhones called Healthy Heart Matters to help young people identify when a relationship may be unhealthy or potentially abusive. The app provides young people with scenarios and asks them to evaluate whether or not the behavior described is cause for concern, and was developed with the help of high school students across Middlesex County. The app also provides tips and resources about healthy dating.
“Our goal is that Healthy Heart Matters will start a conversation among teenagers about healthy relationships,” said Ryan. “We know teenagers are likely to talk to a friend about their relationship, which is what makes this project is so important. This application development was spearheaded by local high school students, who provided us with feedback about what they wanted to know. The result is an easy to access tool that gives teens scenarios that will resonate with them and hopefully make them think critically about behaviors that may become normalized among their peers.”
The app was officially announced at a launch event on Feb. 1 at the Boys & Girls Club of Wakefield Teen Center. During the event local teens were able to download the app and talk to representatives from local domestic violence service agencies including RESPOND, Inc., REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, Alternative House, Portal to Hope, Stoneham Alliance Against Violence, Wakefield Alliance Against Violence, Transition House, Voices Against Violence and Domestic Violence Services Network, Inc.
“Dating abuse is about power and control. Tools like the Healthy Heart Matters app allows teens- survivors and their peers- to become knowledgeable and empowered to recognize the signs of abuse and know where to turn if they need help,” said Jessica L. Teperow, Director of Prevention Programs at REACH Beyond Domestic Violence.
High school is a time when many young people are having their first dating relationship. Many patterns that in adult domestic violence cases can also be observed in teen dating relationships.
In the spring of 2018, recognizing the importance of understanding teens’ knowledge level on the issue of abuse, and to hear their perspective on some of the unhealthy relationship dynamics they have observed among their peers, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office reached out to various schools across Middlesex County to form a Teen Task Force. The task force consisted of high school students from Arlington High School, Bedford High School, Greater Lowell Technical High School, Keefe Regional Technical High School, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational High School and Woburn Memorial High School.
The app was developed by students at Greater Lowell Technical High School and from Noble and Greenough School, and can be downloaded and is available for free on iOS devices.
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