February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Do you know a teenager or tween?
Did you know these startling statistics?
Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner – a figure that far exceeds victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youth. (1)
One in five tweens – age 11 to 14 – say their friends are victims of dating violence and nearly half who are in relationships know friends who are verbally abused. Two in five of the youngest tweens, ages 11 and 12, report that their friends are victims of verbal abuse in relationships. (2)
Is the situation worsening? It appears that way. Our children are getting hurt and abused. This sets them up for a lifetime of side effects. It is well known that victims of abuse are more prone to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, trouble sleeping, eating problems, further domestic violence relationships, and many more problems.
What are some early warning signs that could tell that your child might be in an abusive relationship?
Early warning signs include the following: Is their date jealous? Do they text constantly wanting to know their whereabouts all the time? Abusers will put down the date, be unpredictable in their mood, isolate them from friends and family, be verbally abusive, and other characteristics. These abusive traits can escalate to physical abuse.
Eighty one percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue. (3)
I honestly hadn’t thought much about teen abuse and had no idea it was so prevalent. Abuse is often a silent crime that is not discussed. If a child or teen is in an abusive relationship, would they recognize the signs and know what to do?
What can we do about this?
Talk about it. Be aware. Talk to both girls and boys about dating abuse. Watch for early warning signs. Talk about respect—respecting oneself and other people.
Here are a few websites to visit to learn more about Teen Dating Violence:
Let’s try to break the cycle of abuse by starting with our children.
1 Davis, Antoinette, MPH. 2008. Interpersonal and Physical Dating Violence among Teens. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus. Available athttp://www.ocjs.ohio.gov/TDVMonth/Interpersonal_Teens.pdf.
2 Tween and Teen Dating Violence and Abuse Study, Teenage Research Unlimited for Liz Claiborne Inc. and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. February 2008. Available at>http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/pdf/Tween%20Dating%20Abuse%20Full%20Report.pd
3. “Women’s Health,” June/July 2004, Family Violence Prevention Fund and Advocates for Youth, Available at http://www.med.umich. edu/whp/newsletters/summer04/p03-dating.html.