VALPARAISO | A series of workshops for teens, parents, school administrators, and community leaders is coming to Porter County to raise awareness of youth dating violence prevention.
The Amanda Forum, named in honor of Amanda Bach who lost her life to teen dating violence in Porter County in 2011, is offered through The Caring Place after it received a $50,000 grant from The Women’s Impact Fund of Porter County earlier this year.
The Amanda Forum will officially kick off with a three-day training workshop Jan. 29-31 at Aberdeen Manor in Valparaiso. Susan Magestro, an international criminologist, investigator, educator and consultant will headline the workshop to educate residents.
“One of the things we’re trying to promote is focusing on pro-social relationships. If you just focus on the bullying it draws focus on the negative, and we don’t learn the right ways to act. We want to demonstrate why girls shouldn’t settle and the teen mentality of needing a girlfriend or boyfriend and what is a healthy way to be in a relationship,” says Mary Beth Schultz, executive director of the Caring Place.
* The Amanda Forum starts from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 29 at Aberdeen Manor with a community presentation that is free and open to all residents, parents and organizations.
* From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 30, the adult workshop is open to educators, guidance counselors, social workers and professionals. A $15 registration fee includes breakfast, lunch and T-shirt.
* From 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 31 the youth workshop is free and open to high school age teens and college age students. A free breakfast, lunch, and T-shirt are provided.
“I’m really excited that people are getting behind it. When you get together with these teens, it’s pretty incredible,” says Schultz who adds that there are plans to make it part of bigger state and national initiatives, including establishing a youth task force and annual workshops.
Denise Koebcke, youth dating violence prevention workshop coordinator for The Caring Place, says that the focus is on all youths, not just girls.
“About one in five youths are affected by youth dating violence and guys are affected as well by manipulation and abuse. Teen dating violence and bullying are systemic of our society right now and with new technology it just expands the problem. It’s a whole new context today. Parents need to learn the signs to look for and teens need to know what good behavior looks like,” said Koebcke.
Spots are limited. For more information or to register call The Caring Place at (219) 464-0840, ext. 103, or visit www.thecaringplacenwi.org or www.facebook.com/theamandaforum.