Gaming Against Teen Dating Violence

Jennifer Ann Crecente, an 18-year-old high school senior, died the day after Valentine’s Day in 2006. She didn’t pass away from a childhood disease and she wasn’t killed in a car accident. She was murdered by a classmate. Somebody that she’d grown to know, trust, and eventually date. Sadly, she was a victim of teen dating violence.

And she’s not the only one…

In 2019, JAMA Pediatrics published the results of a study finding that of the more than 2,000 adolescents killed between 2003 and 2016, nearly 7 percent — 150 teens — were killed by their current or former partners. Ninety percent of the victims were female, and their average age was 17 years old.

Research shows that about one in three U.S. teens ages 14 to 18 have been victims of dating violence. Teen dating violence can take place in person, online, or through technology. Teen dating violence can be digital, verbal, emotional, psychological, or physical. And, as noted above, it can result in death.

The following organizations were founded in memory of a victim of teen dating violence:

Even though this problem is called “teen dating violence,” it also pertains to tweens (11 and 12 year olds) as well as young adults in their early twenties. According to The Journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, “44% of students have been in an abusive relationship by the time they graduate from college” (July 2018).

Gaming Against Violence

After the murder of their only child, Jennifer Ann’s parents began educating themselves on the subject of teen dating violence. Elizabeth Crecente founded Jennifer’s Hope and Drew Crecente founded Jennifer Ann’s Group. Jennifer’s mom speaks and writes both locally and nationally on teen dating violence prevention and crime victims’ rights. Jennifer’s dad focuses on pro-social video game production.

Since 2008, Jennifer Ann’s Group has been producing and publishing video games to engage, educate, and empower young people through awareness, education, and advocacy. The nonprofit charity’s award-winning and research-based “Gaming Against Violence” program aims to promote positive behaviors through the careful, strategic use of pro-social games.

This innovative use of games is intended to assist adolescents to better understand and avoid violence, especially in dating relationships. Topics related to teen dating violence that have been covered by the annual contest in the past include: bystander awareness, consent, cultural influences, gaslighting, and healthy relationships. The games do not contain any depictions of violence, and they are all offered at no cost.

Game Design Challenge

The Life.Love. Game Design Challenge is an annual competition presented by Jennifer Ann’s Group and Life Love Publishing. Previous Game Design Challenges have focused exclusively on the use of video games, but for 2021 the focus was on UNPLUGGED games – non-digital games, such as card games, board games, and tabletop games.

The topic for the 14th Annual Life.Love. Game Design Challenge was Power and Control. On December 12, 2021, the winning game was announced: “The Big Build Up,” created by Lien Tran and Lynn Baus. Previous winners can be seen here.

If you are a game designer or game developer and want to be notified of future game design contests, be sure to sign up for the JAG game newsletter.

Click here for the games:

See also

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month!

#TDVAM #TDVAM2022 #stopTDV

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