CHEROKEE - Curt and Christie Brungardt, from Jana’s Campaign, spoke to high school students about teen dating violence prevention at Southeast High School on Feb. 20. Jana’s Campaign is a program dedicated to helping reduce gender-based abuse, promote healthy relationship behaviors, and ultimately create a culture of strong respect among adolescents.

“By providing prevention efforts in middle and high schools, adolescents can better understand healthy relationships, making unhealthy relationships less likely and encouraging peers to intervene when witnessing a situation of abuse,” said Christie Brungardt, co-founder of Jana’s Campaign, and Jana’s mom.

Although over 80 percent of parents and adults do not recognize teen dating violence as an issue, one in four adolescents will be the victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner. Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18 and then escalates. Only 33 percent of teens who have been in violent relationships have ever told anyone about the abuse. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to do poorly in school, have an increased exposure to drugs and alcohol, have a greater likelihood of teen pregnancy, face eating disorders, become isolated from family and friends, and be involved in physical fighting and attempt suicide.

Southeast High School Senior Carrissa Peacock has taken a special interest in the topic of preventing teen dating violence by learning more, researching, and advocating for the cause. In January, she organized an Advocacy Fair at SHS during lunch time where representatives from PSU Students for Violence Prevention, Crawford County Health Department, County Extension, Safe House, and the Children’s Advocacy Center distributed resources to students about the issues surrounding teenage relationship abuse and domestic violence. Peacock competed in a STAR Event through Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America earlier in February and qualified to compete at the State Leadership Conference in April in Wichita. The upcoming assembly from Jana’s Campaign is a part of Peacock’s continued work to advocate for the issue at the high school level.

Jana’s Campaign is a national education and gender violence prevention organization located in Hays, Kansas. Jana’s Campaign was created in honor of Jana Mackey who lost her life to domestic violence in 2008. Mackey, a Hays High School graduate, was a law student at the University of Kansas and had spent several years herself volunteering and helping victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Jana’s Campaign also conducts outreach via social media, workshops and speaking engagements, the arts, community service projects, and engaging boys and men in this work.

More information about Jana’s Campaign can be found at the website www.janascampaign.org