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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Internet-Based Hotline to Counsel Abused Young People

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The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN.org) has run an anti-sexual-assault telephone hotline for 14 years. Trained operators for RAINN do not press callers for revealing information but connect a person to a local resource, counselor, or authority, when the person is ready. Most other hotlines work the same way because hotlines are frequently the first stop to recovery after cutting, suicidal feelings, abuse, rape, or incest, so they have to be anonymous and non-threatening.

Believing that teens are more comfortable typing on a computer than speaking on the phone, this month RAINN will reach out to a new generation with an anonymous, instant messaging-based hotline. RAINN is one of a growing number of organizations reaching out to young people growing up with video games, cell phones, and the Internet. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a page on MySpace that leads 20,000 visitors each month to their website. Sexuality Information Services in Oakland offers teens teens information about sexually transmitted infections via cellphone instant-messaging, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline has both phone and Internet hotlines for teens.

Making it easier for teens to reach out for support is extremely important given the estimates that 46% of teens are victims of partner violence. Communities need to find ways to prevent violence, but also support the victims of violence.

Photo credit: allegri
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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