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Pair of Milwaukee 8th graders hosting abuse awareness event for teens

Event taking place Jan. 20
Posted at 6:27 PM, Jan 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-10 11:20:57-05

While middle school may seem like a young age to learn about domestic violence, experts say it's crucial to teach kids about healthy relationships early. 

Two Milwaukee-area eighth graders are taking it upon themselves to make sure their peers get that education. 

Amelie Lichte and Jordan Schiesl are hosting an event on Jan. 20 called "Love isn't supposed to hurt" for any girl or boy. 

At the same time they're worrying about homework and extracurriculars, the two 13-year-old girls say they're also worried about early signs of abuse in their friend's relationships. 

"People are telling them, 'Oh, you can't hang out with this person anymore, you have to spend more time with me,'" Schiesl said. 

Lichte added, "That's one of the signs of mental abuse but a lot of people don't realize it." 

The event will help them earn the Girl Scout's Silver Award, the second highest award. They've asked representatives from Sojourner Family Peace Center to speak about healthy relationships. 

"What's really important about the middle school age is it's an opportunity to plant some seeds of what healthy relationships look like," said Carmen Pitre, the president and CEO at Sojourner. "What do you do with your emotions, who do you go to for help, they may not quite be dating but they're just about to enter that phase of their life." 

Results from last year's Wisconsin Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that nine percent of high school girls and five percent of boys experienced physical violence in a relationship. 

And 15 percent of girls said they experienced sexual violence, such as being forced to do something they didn't want to do. 

"It's not surprising to me, it's probably more prevalent than we know," Pitre said. "And I would also venture to say a lot of our young boys are also being harmed and have nowhere to talk about it in this culture."

This comes at the same time a group of state lawmakers has introduced a bill that would require this type of education in Wisconsin schools. 

Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) and Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) are lead authors on the bill, along with Sen. Jennifer Schilling (D-La Crosse) and Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield). 

This is the third time this type of bill has been introduced and if made law, Wisconsin would join over 20 other states that have implemented dating violence curricula in schools. 

The "Love isn't supposed to hurt" event will take place Jan. 20 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 9327 S. Shepard Ave. in Oak Creek. The event is free but participants are encouraged to bring a donation for Sojourner Family Peace Center. 

Students interested in registering for the event can email Sharyn Hock at sharynhock@gmail.com or Michele Schiesl at m76schiesl@gmail.com.