5th annual “Safe Date Night” tackles teen relationships

Building and keeping healthy relationships is tough at any age; however, teens face a particularly hard time.

Data from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) shows Utah teens continue to grapple with unhealthy and abusive dating relationships. Approximately one-third of Utah teens report experiencing some form of an unhealthy dating relationship in 2017, according to the report.

Teens in the Cache Valley are invited to learn about healthy relationships during the annual “Safe Date Night” on March 13th at 6 p.m. at the Cache Valley Fun Park, 255 E. 1770 N. The event is sponsored in part by Northern Utah Violence Prevention Education Coalition (NUVPEC).

“When we’re talking about relationships, we’re not just talking about romantic relationships,” according to Ana Liquin, NUVPEC Coalition Chair. “We are talking about relationships with family, friends, siblings, co-workers and teammates.”

In addition to a fun night of bowling, billiards, laser tag and rollerblading, teens will be schooled in identifying healthy and unhealthy relationships.

“We want them to be able to develop skills and tools necessary to have long lasting healthy relationships throughout their lifespan,” said Liquin.

Liquin also wants teens to be able to identify a relationship that is toxic, whether in a friendship or a dating situation.

“Experiencing dating violence can negatively affect an individual’s health throughout their entire life and can even put them at greater risk for repeat victimization,” said Marty Liccardo, men’s engagement specialist with UDOH.

According to UDOH, research has shown teens who experience dating violence are more likely to be depressed, do poorly in school, engage in unhealthy behaviors like using drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to have eating disorders. Some teens may even think about or attempt suicide if they do not receive appropriate help and treatment.

“Part of our goal with prevention,” said Linquin, “is to help reduce the incidents of sexual violence with youth in Cache Valley by helping them understand what healthy relationships look like.”

Representatives from a number of local organizations, including law enforcement, will be on hand to talk about everything from substance abuse, mental health and social media safety.

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