SAN JOSE -- The Santa Clara County District Attorney's office rewarded three teen artists Thursday for their posters depicting "Teen Dating Violence," in an effort to make high school students aware of the problem.

Although the district attorney's office has no official measurements of dating violence in Santa Clara County, Assistant District Attorney James Gibbons-Shapiro calls it an underreported" crime. There are about 4,000 cases of domestic violence in the county each year and "thousands more" aren't reported.

In anticipation of an October campaign against teen dating violence, as part of "Domestic Violence Awareness Month," thedistrict attorney's office invited students from all county high schools to submit posters with this theme to raise awareness about this lesser known form of domestic violence.

Gibbons-Shapiro said he hoped the contest would encourage students to reflect on the issue with their peers as they designed posters.

The winning poster, submitted by Chris Magdaleno, 16, of Summit High School, will be used in marketing the campaign to high schools around the county.

The three winning posters, though varied in design, treated the "contradiction" between violence and love in one relationship in similarly subtle ways.

"These works of art address the contradiction of being hurt by a person who says he loves you, a person you're supposed to be able to trust," said District Attorney Jeff Rosen as he announced the winners. "These posters speak in images and words about the pressure to remain silent, and the damage that this crime has done to the victim and those around them."


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Jessica Lin, 17, a Los Gatos High School senior, received third place and $200, for her poster depicting a rose placed in water, beautiful from afar but beginning to wilt and fall apart under the surface. Pastel shades in acrylic paint almost belie the message written at the top: "Love is supposed to be beautiful."

Andrea Lepe, 15, Summit sophomore, received second place and $300 for a poster visualizing a statistic she researched when she heard about the contest in her art class.

Her painting showed a young woman with bruising on the side of her face, and a hand across her mouth -- a man's hand.

She hoped that her poster would help young women speak up when abused.

Magdaleno's first-place poster, for which he received $ 500,combined photography and emoticons to create a simple message about a complicated problem. Four enlarged emoticons-- including a broken heart and a smiling face -- run along the right of an apparently intimate scene.

A couple pictured in the poster are embracing, but the woman is holding up a sign behind the back of the man that reads: "HELP ME."

"I wanted to keep it simple," said Chris, a junior at Summit who says he knows people who have been involved in dating violence. He hopes the poster is "letting them know that it's not right, and I mean, it hurts not one, but the other."

The designs were judged by Rosen, local artist Maria Lobo, and Kasey Halcon, director of the Victim Witness Assistance Program, which assists victims of crime. They were judged based on appropriateness for the high school age group, aesthetics, and potential for emotional impact.

Contact Andie Waterman at 408-920-5064. Follow her at Twitter.com/WaterAndie.