FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A school program aimed at teen dating violence is proving knowledge isn't only power -- it saves lives.
"We may not have had good relationships modeled for us," says Marjaree Mason Center Executive Director Nicole Linder. "We don't get to pick what we're born into. We do have the opportunity to learn and make better choices."
Know More -- a program now in five Fresno County school districts opens the dialogue surrounding relationships and healthy boundaries. The Domestic Violence Education and Prevention Program offers students resources and a forum to discuss the seriousness of abuse with their peers.
"It has been a real joy getting to have those conversations and have them identify books, movies, songs and things that they're seeing and why they are unhealthy," Linder said.
Statistics show rates for intimate partner violence among teens are higher than adults.
"One in three teens nationwide will experience some form of abuse with an intimate partner, a boyfriend or girlfriend, so it couldn't be a more critical time to start having those conversations," Linder said.
Overall, domestic violence is up within the City of Fresno compared to this time last year.
"Our increase right now is about 148% but to put that in perspective, that's about an additional 49 cases," says Fresno Police Lt. Rob Beckwith.
Beckwith says even one case is too many.
"What we're seeing, like our aggravated assault numbers, really mirror our domestic violence numbers, which tells us this is more than likely pandemic-related," he said.
If you, or someone you know, is the victim of domestic violence, help is available.
The Marjaree Mason Center has a 24-hour crisis hotline (559) 233-HELP (4357) and more resources are available at mmcenter.org
To learn about the Know More Program, visit their website.
Local school districts using program to inform students of teenager dating violence