Mary Alice Reporting –

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and for a senior project, a local student is bringing attention to the topic.

17-year-old Rhylee Shepherd decided to focus on teen dating and place fliers throughout the Newcomerstown school building.

The decision to bring attention to the issue came after she dealt with her own personal experience of an unhealthy relationship.

“Checking my phone, social media and everything without my permission, people can put you down frequently, isolate you from family or friends and after getting out of that situation, I did a lot of research and I realized there were a lot of red flags that I missed or I downplayed. I just thought everything would get better.”

Her mom, Sara Sheperd, adds that red flags can be noticeable from a parent’s perspective, and in their personal situation, a demand was made of Rhylee to be in constant communication at all times.

“As a parent, you know your kid and when you see behaviors that are not them, not wanting to do things, changing the way they want to dress, no longer having the same interest in activities, not hanging out with their friends anymore, all of those things are red flags for parents as well.”

Sara notes that one thing parents can do for their children is to have an open conversation about different forms of abuse and to make sure the teen understands why these actions are abusive.

During her research, Rhylee also found a few key points that surprised her to be listed as dating violence.

“Probably the mood swings and I didn’t realize that checking your phone frequently without your permission would be that much of a red flag and when abusers want to control your life.”

Rhylee’s main goal behind the project is to help her peers recognize the red flags of teen dating violence and to avoid a potentially harmful relationship. As part of this, she has talked with other individuals, her church youth group, and created the awareness month at Newcomerstown High School.

She is also selling “Know Your Worth” bracelets, for $3.00, to raise awareness and all proceeds will go to the local domestic violence shelter. For more information visit, www.facebook.com/ncthigh.

Anyone in need of assistance through the Harbor House Domestic Violence Shelter can contact them through the 24-hour hotline at (330) 364-1374 or go online to www.ohioguidestone.org.

Copyright WTUZ Radio Inc., 2021