Vice President Biden Takes On Teen Dating ViolenceMarch 07, 2013
On February 28, the day the House passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), I got to celebrate with the original author of VAWA — Vice President Joe Biden. I was at a White House forum to observe Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month … and then Joe Biden walked in. Biden, in a special appearance, said the issue of domestic violence is the “proudest cause” he is known for.
Another of the vice president’s initiatives, 1 Is 2 Many, focuses on reducing violence against teens and young women ages 16–24. The event at the White House brought together high school and college groups involved in 1 Is 2 Many, adult representatives from violence-prevention groups, parents of violence victims, counselors’ associations, school principals and nurses, and federal government leaders to discuss the important and growing issue of teen dating violence.
Lynn Rosenthal, the White House adviser on violence against women, noted that one of the most disturbing statistics making teen dating violence so relevant is that although instances of domestic violence on the whole have been falling, instances of violence among 16–24-year-olds have been rising.
Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West spoke about the role of the Justice Department in preventing dating violence. He said, “True justice is preventing crime before it happens,” and called upon audience members to remember their shared responsibility to shoulder the pervasive issue of teen dating violence.
Neil Irvin of Men Can Stop Rape led the audience in an exercise rating situations in a relationship from “least harmful” to “most harmful.” Examples included “having a partner check up on your Facebook page regularly to see where you are,” which was deemed by the audience to be less harmful, and “asking your partner to change because it will bring about attention from the opposite sex,” which brought about mixed responses.
Biden also spoke about how as a son, a husband, and a father, the issue of domestic violence is more than just politics to him; it is personal. He said he envisioned a time when any man who committed an act of domestic violence would be viewed as nothing more than what he was — a coward — and rejected as a social pariah. Biden said this type of social disapprobation will take time, but he hopes VAWA and programs such as 1 Is 2 Many will start to turn the tide.
My experience at the White House was enlightening and inspirational. To see I have so many allies in the fight against domestic violence, including my amazing colleagues at AAUW and our male allies, was truly humbling. Although I know the fight to end domestic violence is far from over, it’s good to know that there are so many of us on the “right side” of this fight.
This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Sarah Lazarus.