February is the month of love, with sweethearts exchanging roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, but did you know it's also Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month?
, a domestic violence services agency based in East Hampton, has partnered with five East End high schools to help bring awareness of the latter. Participating boys basketball teams are donning purple knee-high athletic socks with the Retreat's logo during certain home games throughout the month of February in a show of support. Purple is the color that has symbolized domestic violence for more than 25 years.
One in 5 teens between the ages of 11 and 14 reported that their friends are victims of dating violence, according to statistics provided by the Retreat.
The awareness began at tip-off at the in East Hampton on Tuesday, when the JV team took on Pierson. A varsity game between the two schools followed and, during half-time, East Hampton Town Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley commended efforts to raise awareness of this type of domestic violence before a packed gym that had come out for the match up.
Over at , the Mariners also played in purple socks on Tuesday night. Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Thorne-Holst also issued a proclamation to the Retreat and the team.
"As leaders in the school, athletes have the power to set the bar," said Cristina Horan, an educator at the Retreat. "In wearing purple socks today, the boy’s basketball team is making it known that violence will not be tolerated in their school: and by supporting these young men here today, you are reinforcing that message in your community."
Teaming up with the boys basketball teams is in line with the Retreat's new initiative to engage boys and men in preventing violence against women and girls.
“The Retreat has a great deal of respect for the coaches and young men of all of the participating High Schools for joining in the movement," said Jeffrey Friedman, the executive director of the Retreat. "It is our hope that this public show of support will encourage other young men in the East End to take a stand and help to stop the violence towards women and girls.”
Three more games remain and the organizers are encouraging spectators to also wear purple:
- on Feb. 13 at 6:15 p.m.
- on Feb. 14 at 4 and 5:45 p.m
- , Sag Harbor on Feb. 15 at 6:15 p.m..