Violence and Teens
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 rates for other types of violence affecting youth. One in five girls ages 11 to 14 – say their friends are victims of dating violence and nearly half who are in relationships know friends who are verbally abused. Girls who are victims of dating violence are 4 to 6 times more likely than non-abused girls to become pregnant. One in three adolescents tested for sexually transmitted infections and HIV have experienced domestic violence.
Girls who have been abused by a boyfriend are five times as likely to be forced into not using a condom and eight times more likely to be pressured to become pregnant.
Violence is not love.
Teen dating violence often is hidden because teenagers typically are inexperienced with dating relationships, want independence from parents and often have "romantic" views of love. Young women may believe they are responsible for solving problems in their relationships their boyfriend's jealousy, possessiveness and even physical abuse, is "romantic." They may believe that abuse is "normal" because their friends are also being abused. There do not seek out adults to ask for guidance.
Teenagers can choose better relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand that they have choices, and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with respect.
Common clues that indicate a teenager may be experiencing dating violence:
- Physical signs of injury
- Truancy, dropping out of school
- Failing grades
- Use of drugs/alcohol
- Emotional outburst
- Changes in mood or personality
Dating safety tips for parents with teens
- Ask your child to double-dating the first few times they go out with a new person.
- Know the exact plans for the evening and make sure you know these plans and what time to expect you child to arrive home.
- Discuss with your child that drinking and drugs markedly impacts their reaction time.
- Ask that if your child leaves a party with someone they do not know well, to be sure they tell another person they are leaving and with whom. Ask a friend to call and make sure they arrived home safely.
- Assert yourself when necessary. Be firm and straightforward in your discussions with your child.