The Boys & Girls Club of Neshoba County is set to launch the Date Smart program, an important new program to teach teen boys and girls how to avoid dating violence and how to build healthy and supportive relationships.

Studies show that teen dating violence is a major social problem: one in five female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner and one in three teens say they know a friend who has been hit, punched or slapped by a partner. The Date Smart program is intended to increase young people's understanding of dating violence, help them recognize the signs of abuse and build the skills they need to achieve healthy relationships free of violence and abuse.

"Date Smart is exactly the kind of program we've been looking for to reach our teen members," said Tarsha Love, Executive Director of The Boys & Girls Club of Neshoba County.

"Teens see so few role models for relationships that are safe, respectful and mutually supportive. Through the Date SMART program, they are learning the basics of healthy relationships they will carry with them throughout their lives."

We know that the images they see - on television, in music videos and in the movies - show relationships that are unrealistic, unhealthy or abusive, said Ms. Love.

"We are pleased to have a program that can help teens learn to recognize the difference between abusive and respectful relationships, and, as a result, to expect and demand positive relationships for themselves."

Date Smart will be introduced at The Boys & Girls Club of Neshoba County in September and is intended to increase young people's understanding and build the skills they need to achieve healthy relationships free of violence and abuse.  Through Date Smart the teens will learn the knowledge and skills for having fun, safe and mutually supportive relationships; how to help friends who may be experiencing dating, sexual or domestic violence; and how they can prevent dating, sexual and domestic violence in their communities.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America (www.bgca.org) comprises a national network of some 4,000 neighborhood-based facilities annually serving more than 4.6 million young people, primarily from disadvantaged circumstances. Known as "The Positive Place for Kids," the Clubs provide guidance-oriented character development programs on a daily basis for children, 6 to 18 years old, conducted by full-time professional staff. Key Boys & Girls Club programs emphasize character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, the arts and sports, fitness and recreation.

The Boys & Girls Club of Neshoba County is under the direction of executive director, Tarsha Love, and unit director, Tausha Evans.  The Boys and Girls Club of Neshoba County is opened from the hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you have any questions, please contact one of them at 601-656-1050