Letter: Dance Marathon helps raise awareness of dating violence

From: Lisa Shafran, Turning Point Domestic Violence Services president


February is Teen Dating Awareness month and time for Dance Marathon, historically the largest teen-led initiative in Bartholomew County supporting Turning Point Domestic Violence Services and providing resources for the agency’s youth prevention programming.

The event brings together Bartholomew County high school students for the sole purpose of raising awareness of Teen Dating Violence and providing a platform for prevention education that is so critical to the mission of Turning Point, to prevent and eliminate domestic and dating violence.

Today the problem remains a very real risk to our youth:

  • 40 percent of U.S. teens ages 14-17 have been exposed to at least one form of intimate partner violence during their lifetimes;
  • 1 in 3 children who witnesses partner violence reported being physically abused themselves;
  • 1 in 4 dating teens is harassed or abused through technology.

This year 100 teen organizers and 25 adult mentors have spent almost a full year meeting and planning, and their extraordinary efforts state they will not tolerate violence of any kind in their community. They have been encouraged by a Bartholomew County community that clearly cares deeply about a safe, violence-free environment, as demonstrated by the outpouring of financial, in-kind and volunteer support.

The 2018 Dance Marathon represents its 19th year, and for all of its approaching two-decade existence, Ian Kohen has served as the volunteer lead adult mentor. Ian did not take on this role because he had to, he did it because he wanted to and continued, because domestic/dating violence and the safety of our teens is of deep importance to him.

Ian stepped aside this year to pursue many of his other diverse interests, after providing more hours than we could count leading, teaching and encouraging well over 1,000 teen organizers during his tenure. All of us are extremely grateful for all that Ian has done and we recognize it is now someone else’s turn to benefit from his generosity of time and leadership.

Ian has been a fixture each year at the dance and for the year of planning leading up to it, but never a stationary fixture. Constantly in motion, juggling work, personal and Dance Marathon life, Ian worked with multiple committees, adult mentors and provided advice, stability and calm for the teens leading the event.

Ian will be missed Saturday and Sunday, but will be with us in spirit and his legacy will always be a part of Turning Point. The lessons we take from his many years of service are much appreciated and we will continue to make Dance Marathon the very best it can be.