University of Maryland, Baltimore County Blanketed With Red Flags to Raise Awareness of Dating Violence

Students, faculty and administrators gathered on Wednesday (Nov. 3) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) to launch the Red Flag Campaign, an award-winning program designed to curb incidents of dating violence.  The campaign is being sponsored with a $25,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation.  Proceeds from the grant also will be used to support UMBC's Violence Prevention Advocates Program.

"We are grateful to Verizon for this generous grant to help us address a critically important health issue that affects people from all walks of life," said UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski. "UMBC is a community that cares, and we strongly support the Red Flag Campaign, which encourages us to 'say something' when we observe behaviors that don't seem right, or when we are concerned about a friend's or colleague's health or well being. We encourage all members of the UMBC community to be knowledgeable about relationship violence and to be committed to preventing it."

Melanie Ortel, associate director of public relations for Verizon Wireless in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, said, "The Yeardley Love tragedy was a wake-up call for all of us.  The Red Flag Campaign challenges students to watch out for friends who may be involved in an unhealthy relationship, and we're proud to bring the award-winning Red Flag Campaign to the students of UMBC."

Developed in 2007 by college students, college personnel and community victim advocates to explore the nature of dating relationships on college campuses and to identify the hallmarks of healthy relationships versus abusive ones, the Red Flag Campaign receives funding from the Verizon Foundation and Verizon Wireless' HopeLine®  program.  The campaign appears on more than 100 college campuses across the U.S., including the University of Maryland College Park, and Howard and Georgetown universities in Washington, D.C.

Campaign posters, which feature young men and women who look like typical students, deal with a number of "red flags" that students should be aware of, including emotional abuse, isolation, coercion and excessive jealousy.  Three of the posters are geared toward female students, and three toward male students.  In order to heighten interest and generate more attention, the red flags were dropped on the grounds of UMBC prior to the launch event, without warning or explanation, followed by the posters.

Since it was launched nationwide in 2001, Verizon Wireless's HopeLine program has collected more than 7 million phones and awarded more than $7.9 million in cash grants.  No-longer-used wireless phones - all models, from all wireless carriers - are collected and accessories are refurbished, recycled or sold.  Proceeds benefit victims of domestic violence through grants and the donation of wireless phones and service.  Phones are accepted at Verizon Wireless stores across the nation and on UMBC's campus in The Commons.  For additional program information, visit www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline.

About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its free educational website, Verizon Thinkfinity (www.thinkfinity.org), and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence.  In 2009, the Verizon Foundation awarded $67.9 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  It also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $26.1 million in combined contributions to nonprofits.  Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 5 million hours of community service since 2000.  For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.

About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable and largest wireless voice and 3G data network, serving more than 93 million customers.  Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 79,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and Vodafone (LSE, NASDAQ: VOD).  For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com.  To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

About the Red Flag Campaign
The purpose of the Red Flag Campaign is to encourage students to speak up when they see the red flags of dating violence in their friends' relationships.  Supplementing the poster series is the Red Flag Campaign website, www.TheRedFlagCampaign.org, which offers resources for students and campus personnel wanting to learn more about dating violence and how to help.  Schools participating in the Red Flag Campaign also receive an extensive Campus Planning Guide on CD, which helps campus planners incorporate the Red Flag Campaign materials into campus programming.