Attention KMart Shoppers: Dating Violence on Aisle3

kmart shirtOct. 11, 2009 This morning I was in a Sunday reflective sprawl, dogs piled atop the bed, newspaper everywhere, family away, foggy S.F. Bay keeping me nuzzled into my comforter, when I checked in on my laptop and almost spewed my coffee seeing this shirt.

Our Shaping Youth advisors at Packaging are launching their new book in 48 hours on saving our sons from superhero and slacker boy stereotypes, so I was tying up loose ends on my Health2.0 games covering media cues sent to kids, behavioral myths and conflicting studies on boys, violence, screen time and how it’s showing up in the real world. After all, “October is dating violence prevention month”…WHAMMO this tee shirt jolted me into ‘real world’ retail whiplash for sure…

Helllloooooo,..K-Mart shoppers. Is this a ‘blue light’ special for boys to learn how to treat the females in their lives? (evidently they took some heat for this in 2007, but the shirt exists in equally tactless iterations today)

For those who snark the usual ‘Oh, Amy, c’mon get a sense of humor, it’s only a shirt’ let’s have a quick review of the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, peer to peer counseling via live chat and stats on the escalation of dating violence. Not to mention the creation of new products like the ‘date rape lip gloss’ to turn girls’ lips blue if her drink has been tainted. (ok, maybe useful but scary/sad/surreal)

traffic-signalI’d say this is ‘green light’ normalization to little boys early on that it’s okay to dismiss, tune out, and even harm girls when they ‘use their voice’ and apparently annoy others by doing so.

It’s ironic that I stumbled upon this at the Hardy Girls Healthy Women site (where Lyn Mikel Brown also plays a leadership role) as I was eager to weigh in and vote on the girl-driven campaign to change media’s representation of girls away from the mean girl, pole-dancing, shopaholic, fashionistas toward raising a voice to promote REAL girl personas…

REAL girls (AND boys I might add!) are victims of dating violence…we don’t need a shirt to satirically spoof stats like these from the Bureau of Justice report with data sources citing 1 in 3 dating abuses; and Safe Youth citing 1 in 5… ALL are ‘too many’ regardless of which numbers are being crunched.

“In dating violence, one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through abuse. Dating violence crosses all racial, economic and social lines.”

teen dating

If that doesn’t give you enough fresh evidence or resources, try the ‘sweetheart or broken heart’ piece by the NCPC (National Crime Prevention Council) explore resources in 180 languages via the NCVC (National Center for Victims of Crimes) and site brimming with new CDC data and fact sheets/tips out the wazoo from NYVPRC (National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center) which popped up a decade ago post-Columbine.

For social media conduits, the site does a solid job in maintaining youth relevance; with quizzes, movie making mashups, live chat, awareness raising and intervention among peers…

They have a celebrity spin with Grammy award-winning artist Martina McBride and her daughter Delaney called, “My Time to Shine” on supporting healthy dating relationships, a ‘heart/hope’ social entrepreneuial shopping component with Lauren Conrad and mark (see “m.powerment by mark” at and MADE (moms & dads, education) to round out their family of offerings.

bom411I also would check out (which stands for “Boss of Me” as in, ‘you’re not the one to be pushing me around’…)

It offers highly relatable chats via informal scenarios that guide with pragmatic ways to ‘dial down the drama’ in relationships and hold one’s own personal power amidst a media deluge of lousy role models on same. And…Twitter buddy Diana Himes’ educational Teen Dating Violence ning network gives a nice overview and regional appeal for change springboarding to the site MySistersHouse. (more about their goals here)

ALL of these are proof positive there’s a necessity to provide hope for healthier beginnings for these kids and reinforce it’s no joke. (reminds me of the ‘teaching kids there’s a battle of the sexes’ article about those  ‘throw rocks at boys’ David & Goliath tees with tude, —backlash goes both ways)

So yah, Kmart purple ribbonshoppers, laugh all you want but for either gender being ‘dissed’ via brute force or head games, I think they’d agree the tee shirt should be ‘tossed out the window’ the way the girl in the cartoon is…ugh.

Bleh. How low can you go to make a buck?

(CSM adds to that question citing Gossip Girl’s new low here)

Ok, I’m pulling the covers back over my head now. I’ll continue my coverage of Health2.0 and positive media influences when I can get this bitter taste out of my mouth. Way to ruin a good cuppa Joe, Kmart et al…Patooie.

Wanna Help Teens Raise Domestic Violence Awareness?

Tips from “Love Is Respect”

  • Put a purple ribbon up as your facebook/twitter/myspace profile pic to show your support for ending domestic violence.
  • Post a link on your profiles to to spread healthy dating awareness and let your friends know about the awesome resources we have if they ever need help.
  • Send anti-dating violence awareness mass texts to your friends.
  • Organize an anti-dating violence rally at your school.
  • Submit an article on teen dating violence awareness to your school newspaper.
  • Write a letter to get a Teen Dating Abuse curriculum in your school; has great info on the steps you need to take.
  • Create an anti-dating violence PSA and post it to your YouTube account.
  • Print out our Teen Dating Bill of Rights and post it around school (with permission from school officials).
  • Print out our quiz cards and hand them out at local events.
  • Create a LOVE Mashup and send it to your friends to promote healthy dating habits.
  • Create a project for It’s Time to Talk Day. is offering $250 Grants for your projects. Click here for more info.

loveisrespectTeen Dating:

Bill of Rights

Love Is Respect

I have the right:

To always be treated with respect – In a respectful relationship, you should be treated as an equal.

To be in a healthy relationship – A healthy relationship is not controlling, manipulative, or jealous. A healthy relationship involves honesty, trust, and communication.

To not be hurt physically or emotionally – You should feel safe in your relationship at all times.

Abuse is never deserved and is never your fault – Conflicts should be resolved in a peaceful and rational way.

To refuse sex or affection at anytime – A healthy relationship involves making consensual sexual decisions.

You have the right to not have sex – Even if you have had sex before, you have the right to refuse sex for any reason.

To have friends and activities apart from my boyfriend or girlfriend – Spending time by yourself, with male or female friends, or with family is normal and healthy.

To end a relationship – You should not be harassed, threatened, or made to feel guilty for ending an unhealthy or healthy relationship. You have the right to end a relationship for any reason you choose.

From Safe

Fact Sheets

  • Safe Dates
    This fact sheet describes Safe Dates, a primary and secondary dating abuse prevention program for adolescents, and its targets, content, and outcomes.
  • Teen Dating Violence Facts
    This fact sheet provides statistics on teen dating violence, including prevalence and frequency, parental awareness, teen awareness, incident reporting, contributing factors, and patterns in relationship abuse.
  • Teen Dating Violence Prevention Recommendations
    This fact sheet lists teen dating violence prevention strategies for victims, abusers, family members, friends, bystanders, and professionals that work with teens.



  1. Amy – thanks for drawing our attention to these sites and issues. I do side with your views that we should not condone crap like this. Violence is no joke and KMART should take your cue and drop any SKU that crosses this line.

    Please keep up the great effort!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Andy…keeps me goin’. Especially since so many have abandoned meaty material in favor of Twitterific soundbites and data nuggets. 😉

    I HAVE found Twitter to be a great sentinel for me in terms of connecting the dots faster with some of this stuff…like,…would you like to do a papa post about the new iPhone app for Pepsi’s new ‘Amp’ for men that sells “24 kinds of women and how to score w/them” ??? er…I’m speechless.

    Not. Kidding.

  3. I should add that the shirt as shown took heat in 2007 at Kmart, and still exists in 2009 NOW in diff. iterations and is in fact on a ‘Columbus Day special’ for the holiday weekend, ahem:

    Lisa Ray (Parents for Ethical Marketing) & I were discussing this on Facebook and I realize that this whole ‘fresh data’ vs. ‘what’s new to you’ approach is skewed thinking in the blogosphere.

    In other words, if I’m spewing my coffee over something from two years ago, and due diligence tells me it still exists in other forms in 2009 right now, then it may not be ‘Kmart petition worthy act now moment’ but it certainly falls into the cultural zeitgeist of ‘why things are they way they are’ and is worthy of uncorking the conversation more fully on how this violence ends up in the realm of retail mind pollution in our culture.

    I recognize I need to ‘play fair’ but when I look at the impact of domestic violence on kids here: it serves as a constant reminder that no one is ‘playing’ or ‘joking’ when it comes to dating violence or gender/peer to peer control and dominance issues.

    Ok, off my soapbox now…Thx for the convo, Lisa, and to the rest of you ‘totally wired’ folk, what do you think? Is this a case of ‘let the sleeping dogs lie’? Should we instead call attention to an au courant retail gaffe? (plenty come to mind, but this one fits well w/anti-violence month)

    Does timing make a difference in the cultural context of media/mktg’s impact on kids if the situation continues and the case studies continue to pile up?

    Thoughts, please?

  4. Unfortunately, someone doesn’t even have to buy it. A kid walks past it, sees it and message received. This is how we communicate in our society today: snippets, captions, pictures. The world is too busy and mired in information for us to sit down and decipher it.

    Back on topic, I wonder how many flash messages like this are sent to kids every day. Have you ever seen the ones at Ambercrombie & Fitch?
    .-= Clark Kent’s Lunchbox´s last blog ..Why I "Hate" Mattel Toys’ CEO, Robert Eckert =-.

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