Youth Leading the Charge to Prevent Teen Dating Violence

Like many teens, Dymond Harding has seen the harm an unhealthy relationship can have on a friend or loved one. A student in Ypsilanti, Mich., Harding watched a close friend endure an abusive relationship, losing weight, becoming distant and having her grades drop.

“I didn’t know what to do to help her,” says Harding, a gifted songwriter who wrote and recorded the single “Selfish Love” based on the experience.  

Harding entered her song in the PAVE the Way Project, a nationwide awareness campaign and contest designed to promote healthy relationships and empower youth through pop music. The PAVE (Preventing Abuse and Violence through Education) the Way Project – which is supported by Verizon Wireless, MTE Inc. and Cornerstone, a Minnesota-based domestic violence prevention organization – uses original songs written by teen artists and an interactive website to teach teens about healthy dating relationships.

As the contest winner, Harding won the opportunity to perform on a recording with GRAMMY Award winner Salvador Santana, in collaboration with his father, 10-time GRAMMY Award winner, Carlos Santana. Harding will premiere her new song “Me, Myself and I,” co-written with Salvador Santana and Klaus Derendorf, featuring Carlos Santana on guitar, on Feb. 21 in New York City at A Day to Connect, Inspire and Heal, a groundbreaking summit hosted by Verizon.

The summit will bring together more than 300 leaders from organizations working on domestic violence prevention to spark a national conversation and drive solutions to this critical public health issue, including teen dating violence.

“Me, Myself and I,” will be added to the PAVE the Way Project website this April as a free download, along with the seven finalist songs already available on the site.

Since participating in the PAVE the Way Project, Harding continues to learn more about teen dating violence and would advise teens with friends who need help to speak up and help them reach out for assistance. “Sometimes it’s hard for them to get out of a bad situation because they think it’s normal and it’s ok, but they need to get back to reality and sometimes…they need guidance to get out.”