Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Teen Dating Violence

"Vigil honors teen killed by boyfriend"

"Friends, Strangers March For Teen Allegedly Killed By Boyfriend" 

"Teen shot and killed by her 'boyfriend'"

"Teen Killed Boyfriend, Cops Say"

"Wegmans Stabbing Victim: "Please help--he's going to kill me!""


       These are just a few of the headlines that are being splashed across our news papers and televisions  more and more frequently. When one of these stories makes the news entire communities feel the shock, there are cries of outrage and lots to talk about around the water fountain at work. However as the days and weeks go by new headlines replace the old and people move on. What is not addressed is the story behind the headline. These headlines are the culmination of the serious, widespread, insidious and perpetual problem of teen dating violence. Each of these stories is the tragic end of an abusive relationship.  
      For every young man or woman that we hear about in the news there are countless others that won't be killed or physically injured but none the less suffer mental, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse from their partner each and everyday of their young lives. The abuse that occurs in adolescent relationships is the same as that which occurs in adult relationships. It is a repeated pattern of abusive behavior followed by apologies and promises to change and an increased risk of violence when the abused partner decides to leave the relationship.
        We may never know the full extent of teen dating violence. Research conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) showed that 2 out of 3 teens who were in an abusive relationship didn't tell anyone. But it's not just teenagers who are contributing to our lack of knowlege and understanding, parents aren't talking about it either.  81% of parents who were surveyed either don't believe teen dating violence is an issue or don’t know if it is an issue. 54% of parents admit they have spoken to their child about safe sex and drug use but NOT about dating violence .
    What we do know is that teen dating violence has no social, economic, racial, religious, or sexual orientation boundaries. Both males and females can be victims or perpetrators, however females between the ages 16-24 experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence than any other age group and minority females(african american and hispanic) experience abuse more frequently then caucasian females(VAWnet). A male victim is more likely to be pinched, slapped, scratched, or kicked by his girlfriend. A female victim is more likely to experience punching and kicking that results in injuries that require medical attention. Girls also experience more psychological abuse and are often forced to engage in unwanted sexual activity(NCVC).

In the United States

  • 1 in 3 adolescents will be a victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner.
  • 1 in 4 victims admit to being isolated from family and friends.
  • 1 in 3 teens say they are text messaged 10-30 times an hour by a partner keeping tabs on them
  • 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
  • 1 in 4 teenage girls who have been in relationships reveal they have been pressured to perform oral sex or engage in intercourse.
  •  More than half of victims say they have compromised their own beliefs to please a partner.

There is an unmistakable  correlation between earlier sexual behavior and higher levels of abuse. When comparing the statistics of children of different age groups there is clear evidence that kids who begin having sex by the age of 14 are at the greatest risk for being in an abusive relationship.

      By Age 14
      By Age 15-16
      By Age 17-18
      Partner wanted to know where they were
      partner wanted to know who they were with
      Isolated from friends and family
      Called names or put down verbally
      Physically hurt(hit, kicked, choked, etc)
      Pressured into oral sex
      Pressured into intercourse

            Lastly, nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser. Abusive teen relationships have long lasting mental and emotional effects on its victims and those who are abused as teenagers are more likely to be in abusive relationships as adults, hence perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

            Fortunately there many groups and organizations that are reaching out to educate teens  and adults alike. More information can be found at any of the links below.

        Love is 
        Love is Not Abuse
        National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Initiative
        Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

        (Statistics from the US Dept. of Justice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Liz Claiborne Inc. teen dating violence survey)

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