Empowering Youth: High School Campaign Targets Dating Violence

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In a powerful initiative against teen dating violence, high school students from across Western New York united for the Erie County Teen Relationship Violence Summit. The event, facilitated by the NYS Office for Prevention of Domestic Violence, took place in recognition of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in February. Through shared experiences, informative sessions, and guidance from advocates, the summit aimed to inspire a collective stand against domestic violence among the youth.

Empowering Voices:

Lukas Mazur, a junior at Williamsville South High School, emerged as a passionate advocate for change. Reflecting on his personal experiences, Lukas expressed a desire to challenge societal norms and foster greater acceptance among his peers. His mission centers on encouraging young men to be more open-minded and accepting, particularly within the school environment.

Student-led Initiative:

The summit brought together 60 students and faculty members, all committed to addressing the concerning prevalence of teen dating violence. According to a 2022 report by the US Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, statistics reveal alarming figures, with 7-19% of teens experiencing sexual or physical dating violence, 48% facing stalking or harassment, and up to 65% reporting psychological abuse.

Guidance from a Advocate:

Former Syracuse Quarterback and domestic violence prevention advocate, Don McPherson, played a pivotal role in guiding the students. Drawing from his experiences, McPherson emphasized the importance of mentoring young men like Lukas. He underscored the need for allyship, encouraging individuals to seek supportive spaces that allow authenticity and honesty.

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Impactful Takeaways:

The summit left a profound impact on the attendees, with many young men expressing a newfound awareness of the severity of dating violence. Jayden Gray, a junior at Health Sciences Charter School, acknowledged the eye-opening realization about the harsh realities people can face. Dominic Slisz, also from Health Sciences Charter School, expressed a commitment to avoiding harmful behavior and creating a safer environment.

Collective Progress:

The engagement of young women, like Williamsville South junior Ayushi Sainath, highlighted the significance of collective progress. Ayushi found hope in witnessing the active involvement and curiosity of her peers in learning about healthy relationships. The summit became a platform for shared understanding, emphasizing the importance of fostering positive relationships among the youth.

Don McPherson’s Call to Action:

Don McPherson’s message resonated as a call to action, urging everyone to be allies to themselves and each other. His emphasis on authenticity and creating spaces for genuine conversations underscored the need for a collective effort to combat teen dating violence.


The Erie County Teen Relationship Violence Summit stands as a testament to the power of collective action among the youth. As students become advocates for change, armed with knowledge and a commitment to fostering healthy relationships, the impact is expected to reverberate within their schools and communities. This summit not only sheds light on the prevalence of teen dating violence but also marks a crucial step towards building a generation that actively rejects and addresses this societal issue.

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