Teens March Across Brooklyn Bridge to Raise Awareness About Domestic Violence Among Their Peers

Teens walked from Brooklyn to Manhattan Saturday spreading awareness about an issue that threatens many young people. NY1's Erin Clarke has that story.

Hundreds of teens, parents and supporters made their way from Brooklyn, across one of New York's  most iconic bridges and onto city hall to raise awareness about dating violence.

The American Journal of Public Health says 1-in-3 young people report experiencing some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships.

"We're all teenagers and we're all affected by violence in relationships," said one young demonstrator. "We have to stop it."

"Teens do experience some form of violence whether it's sexual violence, whether it's verbal, emotional violence and there's a lot of silence," said Antonia Clemente, Executive Director and Founder of The Healing Center. "They don't know where to go, who to talk to."

It was five years ago that Clemente, Founder of the domestic violence organization met two teenage girls who both had orders of protection against someone they had dated. 

"It was alarming," Clemente said. "We realized that we needed to raise the bar on the issue of teen dating violence."

And so, the NYC Teen Dating Violence Awareness Walk-a-thon was started.

Over the years other organizations and elected officials have joined the cause.

"I'm here as a City Councilmember, but I'm also here as a New Yorker to make sure that as we cross that bridge every year," said Brooklyn City Councilman Carlos Menchaca. "That we bring that message of hope, awareness, and really to elevate this issue of teen violence."

Organizers say since this event started five years ago a lot has changed, but there's still much work left to be done.

"We need our city to continue providing support and financial help," said Clemente.

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez says she is working to get federal funding for domestic violence organizations, especially those that deal with teen violence.

This group says whether or not it gets the money, it won't remain silent in its mission to eliminate dating violence.

"When we see something, say something, it will change someone's life," Clemente said.

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