News Release: School of Medicine

Sep. 30,  2009

Stopping Teen Dating Violence Before it Starts: Jane Fonda Launches Campaign with Atlanta Teens

News Article ImageLearn more about Start Strong, the largest initiative ever funded to target 11- to- 14-year-olds and rally entire communities to promote healthy relationships.

Jane Fonda, actor, writer and founder/chair of the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (GCAPP), along with local teenagers and Atlanta community groups officially launched today the Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships Program aimed at stopping teen dating violence and abuse before it starts.

The Jane Fonda Center at Emory was chosen as one of 11 community organizations nationwide to receive $1 million in funding through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's national Start Strong initiative. This is the largest national public health initiative ever funded, targeting 11-to-14-year-olds, to stop teen dating violence.

"This initiative, both locally and nationally, promises to educate and empower teens and their surrounding communities that dating violence and abuse among teenagers must be stopped before it ever starts," says Fonda. "With teen dating abuse a significant public health issue in this country, we must focus on teaching our young people to develop healthier and more positive relationships at an early age."

As part of this four-year initiative, Start Strong Atlanta will rally the entire community, including teenagers, parents, caregivers, educators, coaches and community leaders to build environments that support healthy relationships and ensure violence and abuse are never tolerated.

"October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this campaign's launch is the perfect tie-in, aimed at middle school youth, for reducing the nation's unacceptable level of intimate partner violence through early prevention," says Melissa Kottke, MD, MPH, assistant professor in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Jane Fonda Center. Kottke is also the principal investigator of the national initiative at Emory.

The Jane Fonda Center along with its partners, Atlanta Public Schools and Grady Memorial Hospital Teen Services Program, have together developed a comprehensive community plan for this initiative. This plan will focus on four core strategies involving education, policy change, community outreach and social marketing campaigns to empower local teens to develop healthier relationships.

"It's so sad that almost every teen you ask knows someone who has been a victim of dating abuse, if they themselves have not," says Marie Mitchell, Start Strong Atlanta project director at the Jane Fonda Center. "Indeed, the National Council on Criminal Delinquency Focus states that approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. This can't continue. We must actively engage youth at an early age and provide them with the knowledge and skills to develop healthy teen relationships and prevent them from becoming victims of teen dating abuse."

Other Atlanta collaborators include: Metro Atlanta Violence Prevention Program, Department of Juvenile Justice, Fulton Family Care Network, Rock of Escape, Journey Girls, Young Adults Talk, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Girl Scouts and Georgia Campaign for Pregnancy Prevention, and the list continues to grow. To learn more about Start Strong Atlanta and other related events going on during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, visit

The Jane Fonda Center at Emory University was created in 2000 with a lead gift from Jane Fonda. The mission of the Jane Fonda Center is to advance scientific knowledge about adolescence with an emphasis on adolescent reproductive health. The center seeks to disseminate information and strategies for risk reduction and healthy transitions to adulthood. It fulfills its mission by research, program and curriculum development and evaluation.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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