An abusive relationship is something we never want our kids to experience. We invest time and effort educating them on how to recognize signs and red flags. We engrave in their hearts their value and do our best to increase their self-esteem. What we don’t realize is that these same children statistically can be affected by teen violence, specifically when it comes to dating and relationships. Because the reality of this disheartening possibility is evident in the statistics, we need to recognize that the strongest tools to fight teen violence are prevention and awareness. Providing a safe and stable environment to establish a dialogue is a firm way to break this insidious cycle of abuse.
The Collective Problem
• Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
• One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds the rates of other types of youth violence.
• One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped, or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
• Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence – nearly triple the national average.
• Among female victims of intimate partner violence, 94 percent of those age 16-19 and 70 percent of those age 20-24 were victimized by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend.
• Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18.
• The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence.
• Nearly half of dating college women (43 percent) report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.
• College students are not equipped to deal with dating abuse. Fifty-seven (57) percent say it’s difficult to identify, and 58 percent state they don’t know how to help someone who’s experiencing it.
• One in three dating college students (36 percent) have given a dating partner their computer, online access, or e-mail or social network passwords, and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse.
• One in six college women (16 percent) have been sexually abused in a dating relationship.
• Violent relationships during adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, and further domestic violence.
• Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls six times more likely to become pregnant and twice as likely to get an STI.
• Half of youth who have been victims of both dating violence and rape attempt suicide, as compared to 12.5 percent of non-abused girls and 5.4 percent of non-abused boys.
Lack of Awareness
• Only 33 percent of teens who were in a violent relationship told anyone about the abuse.
• Eighty-one (81) percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.
• Although 82 percent of parents feel confident they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58 percent) couldn’t correctly identify all the warning signs of abuse.
From adolescence all the way to adulthood, we know that the issues of teen violence are real and cannot be ignored. Teaching our children at home and striving for education in schools to bring awareness is vital. While we may not be able to eliminate the problem completely, what we can do is ensure there is light shed on the subject as a whole. It’s also imperative that victims of this abuse have someone to talk to and speaking up about it doesn’t compromise their safety.
This month, take time to educate yourself about the facts. Consider opening up a conversation with your children. Let’s expose the darkness of teen dating violence and begin changing the statistics once and for all. W