Posted by Elizabeth Schön Vainer

TeenSafeWe all know that being a teen these days is amazing and crazy, fast-paced and at times overwhelming. American teens have opportunities to travel the world, access every kind of information available, and do whatever they want with their lives. But all of this doesn't eliminate the fact that teens are still at risk to experience much harm. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and it reminds us of the importance of having conversations about dating abuse with our teens. JF&CS Journey to Safety's TeenSafe program exists because:

  • Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
  • Nationwide, nearly one in ten high-school students (9.8 percent) has been hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

    Source: Futures Without Violence

These are alarming numbers and they show us that dating abuse happens in all our communities, impacting teens from different backgrounds, cultures, races, and religions. Journey to Safety hears from Jewish teens and their families and their stories confirm that being Jewish is not protection from this social ill.

We need to talk about it.

Abuse thrives in silence when communities don't recognize it or talk about it. We can tell you that most people do not truly understand that abuse is about controlling behavior (for teens this is often evident through the use of technology and demands to be accessible at all times) and may or may not involve physical violence. Take it upon yourself to learn and recognize the warning signs of abuse and know how to respond if you see or hear about it.

Teens, parents, and adults who work with teens all need to be part of this conversation. Enhancing individual safety and creating a community-wide safety net are critical goals to prevent dating abuse.

Run by high school juniors and seniors working with an experienced youth educator, TeenSafe workshops use fun, interactive, and age appropriate exercises and discussion to give teen participants the language and tools they need to recognize abuse in an intimate relationship and know how to respond if they see, hear about, or experience it. We also offer parallel parent programs, as well as workshops for educators, administrators, clergy, and youth advisors.

To learn more or to book a TeenSafe program, please contact Elizabeth Schön Vainer at or 781-647-5327 (JFCS).

This project is made possible by a generous grant from the Boston Jewish Community Women's Fund.

Love is Respect
Love is Not Abuse

elizabeth schon vainerElizabeth Schön Vainer is the Program Director of Journey to Safety, the JF&CS response to domestic abuse. Elizabeth is pleased to bring her many years of experience collaborating with multidisciplinary teams to investigate child and domestic abuse to Journey to Safety and JF&CS. She believes that only through collaborative efforts can we truly serve our clients. Elizabeth has a BSW from the University of Tel Aviv and a MS in Organization and Management from Antioch University.