I recently participated in a program on teen-dating violence hosted by the National Foundation for Women Legislators, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Liz Claiborne Inc., that made me realize that these young relationships are more powerful than we think.

It was heartbreaking to hear from parents who had lost their children, and from a teen survivor who didn't realize something was wrong until it was too late. I learned that nearly one in 10 American high school students experiences dating violence and that there are serious health consequences for young children who witness violence in their homes. Thankfully, there are initiatives around the country to address this issue, but more needs to be done.

There's an urgent need to educate our youths about healthy teen relationships. It's time for Philadelphia to get involved. We can start this holiday season by talking to our kids about relationships, about what is acceptable and what is not, and we can advocate for teen- dating violence education in our schools and communities. That would be a priceless gift.

State Sen. LeAnna M. Washington

Philadelphia