Tam High Marin Against Youth Abuse (MAYA) Club

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Tam High Marin Against Youth Abuse (MAYA) Club

By Tessa Flynn

One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence. This statistic is not limited to schools outside of Marin given that abuse is non-specific to various socioeconomic classes. While occurrences are common, social awareness is not. According to loveisrespect.org, 81 percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue. The existence of dating abuse continues to be one of the greatest threats facing teens today. The prominence of this issue has created the need for organizations such as the Center for Domestic Peace: a collective of services and programs within Marin possessing the shared goal of transforming the world into a place free of abuse. This center is located in San Rafael and acts as the heart of Tam High’s Marin Against Youth Abuse (MAYA) club.

MAYA was started two years ago by seniors Cat Morgan, Elan Levine, and Ilaria Montenecourt. 

“A now-graduated student named Abby Frazee had started a similar club at Tam; she was who had introduced me to the center originally,” Morgan explained. “I began attending meetings at the center every two weeks, and was instantly shocked by the stories shared and harsh realities told. Because schools rarely include the subject in the curriculum, I thought a club would be a good alternative.” Morgan is part of the Center for Domestic Peace’s youth advisory committee composed of teens from high schools all over the Bay Area. These meetings consist of domestic and dating abuse training in addition to outreach. Montenecourt added, “We knew from personal experience and through the center that relationship abuse was a problem in Marin, and we wanted to find a way to help our peers avoid those kinds of situations. This club is really important as most teens aren’t properly informed and are often unaware that they’ve experienced a form of abuse.” 

The club acts as an extension of the center, educating students on the various forms of abuse and how to identify it while also finding ways to involve the community. Senior Lainey Bloom, who joined last year, said, “I originally joined because my friend was a founder, but after being in the club last year I’m really glad I’m involved. I never realized just how common and impactful dating abuse is, especially with girls my age. I think what MAYA teaches is so important and I would recommend joining to anyone interested in helping to spread awareness.”

Their next project will be hanging posters around Tam in the spirit of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The MAYA club holds meetings every two weeks in math teacher Margie Brindley’s room, located in the Math Building.