As a mom of two boys in middle and high school, these statistics and facts are a real eye opener for me.

When I was first made aware of the Safe Dates Program and Campaign that Senator Mark Montigny secured government funding for, I was really surprised at how young the kids in these statics are. Many young boys and girls at the age of 12 consider themselves to be "dating" and in a relationship with a partner. I have a 12-year-old and 15-year-old, both boys, and I know that there are girls that they "like" and are friends with, but I would never have thought twice about it.

Well, now I will. In fact, my husband and I plan to pay much closer attention to their relationships with friends and/or girlfriends.

The first thing I did was contact both of the kids' schools to request this very informative Safe Dates Program with the help of the Women's Center of New Bedford.

The Women's Center’s Safe Dates Program is delivered directly to classrooms and helps teens to understand their risks in unhealthy relationships and where and how to get help. Many of these kids feel embarrassed to ask for help, which is frightening to hear as a parent.

Tell school leaders that you want your teens to have this critical program to protect our young people and educate them on what is healthy and what is toxic. Schools can call the Women's Center at (508) 996-3343, Ext. 25 to arrange for the program in their schools.