Paula Wolfson, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Teens in Montgomery County are being urged to use their cameras to send a message.
It is part of an effort by the county and the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office to raise awareness of a problem affecting many young lives: teen dating violence.
"One in three teens in this country is affected by some sort of dating violence on a routine basis," says Debbie Feinstein, the assistant State's Attorney for Montgomery County and chief of the family violence division.
She says it happens everywhere and far too often, the abuse is hidden. For too many teens, there is still a stigma attached
"You don't want anyone to know," she says. "There is a lot of shame associated with being victimized this way."
Feinstein says the county is making an all-out effort to end the silence "because that is the only way we are going to combat this."
Dating violence is already being discussed in the county's schools and on March 3, there will be a conference at Montgomery College aimed at energizing teens and their parents to fight back and make a difference.
This is where those cameras come into play.
The county, with support from Verizon, is sponsoring a contest. Teens are being asked to submit short videos designed to increase public awareness of dating violence.
There will be cash prizes and Feinstein says the winners will be announced "red- carpet style" at the conference.
One of the winning videos last year was created by two classmates at Sherwood High School in Sandy Springs.
Cesar Martinez of Burtonsville wrote the script and made the video with Cara Dekelbaum of Olney.
Watch the video here:
"It was just a great opportunity to show the negative effects of dating abuse," says Dekelbaum, who is now a student at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County.
Martinez says he was inspired by a friend who was in an abusive relationship.
"I always tried to help her and she inspired me to show other people what the consequences are," the Sherwood High School senior says.
The deadline for submitting entries for the 4th Annual Choose Respect Montgomery Teen Dating Public Service Announcement Contest is Feb. 1. Entry forms can be found on the county's website.
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