More than 100 area teenagers and other activists gathered at the Stamford Government Center on Tuesday afternoon to raise awareness of teen dating violence.
The proclamation noted that 10 percent of American teens reported being in a physically violent dating relationship, with 17 percent being in an emotionally abusive dating relationship. Research says 74 percent of Fairfield County teens believe verbal abuse is a serious issue among their peers in a relationship.
"I call upon educators, law enforcement officials, parents, nonprofit agencies and high school students in our cities to observe the month with appropriate programs and activities that promote awareness and prevention of the crime of teen dating violence," the proclamation read.
"When I started at Stamford High this year, I wanted to try new things, so I got involved with the Youth Leadership Council, and I was really surprised at how big of an issue teen dating violence is," she said. "It makes me really want to help people, and I hope the people who don't already stand up for this will start to do so."
The organization hosts an event or initiative every few weeks.
"A couple days ago, we had people hold up signs during passing time," she said. The signs, with slogans such as "Love Not Hate," were meant to raise awareness of the problem.
At Tuesday's conference, dozens of Fairfield County high school students held signs in the audience, carrying messages such as "Love shouldn't hurt" and "Stop teen dating violence."
"I just wanted to show my support for my organization," said Tyler, a member of YNet, a Greenwich High School club affiliated with the YWCA that focuses on teen dating violence prevention.
While many of the audience members holding signs were young women, Tyler said he believes it is important for him to step up as a young man.
"I feel like it opens up the demographic," he said. "It's our problem too. And this has just opened up my eyes."
In recent years, 266 local youth activists have been part of a successful effort to lobby the state Legislature to pass a mandate requiring local school boards to provide in-service training programs for teachers and administrators on teen dating violence, as well as other health-related topics. But many teens want to see more action.
Connor Stapleton, a Greenwich High School student who spoke at Tuesday's conference, said there is no requirement for districts to teach violence prevention to students.
Lindsay would like to see that change.
"Our activism works because we make a distinction between pity and passion," Lindsay said.
"In 2011, teens who experience dating violence need more than condolences, more than pity. They need people to get interested, get angry and then get to work on the conditions that make physical, emotional and verbal dating abuse way too common in Fairfield County," she said.