Columbia’s new mural brings awareness to rise in dating violence

Crime Tracker

COLUMBIA, Tenn., (WKRN) — Dating violence has become more prevalent among teenagers.

The Tennessee Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence has been working to raise awareness about the disturbing trend.

In Columbia, a new mural has been unveiled in Columbia to promote a campaign called “Be The Friend.” The campaign educates kids on what to watch out for and how to handle it if they see their friends in a bad situation.

Kathy Walsh with the coalition said she has witnessed some disturbing behaviors in children who are junior high age that have boyfriends or girlfriends, “Texting them constantly, ‘what are you doing? where are you?'” She continued, “Trying to keep them from hanging out with their friends; being very controlling, and this can escalate into physical or sexual violence.”

Walsh said one in four girls and one in nine boys will experience dating violence in their lifetimes.

Columbia native and American Idol contestant, Cassie Coleman, was on hand for the unveiling. “If you keep reaching out, then I’ll keep coming back. And if you’re gone for good, then I’m okay with that,” she said. “Being from Columbia myself, being a young person who has grown up, here I think it is important to bring a light to a sensitive subject.”

More murals are expected to pop up in the coming months to bring awareness of this issue in Tennessee.

News 2 is investigating new trends and tactics being used by adults who prey on children. Click here to see more from “Unspeakable Crimes: What Parents Need to Know”.

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