Love is Respect: February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
Recently I have been covering a lot of news regarding domestic violence like a new bill in New Hampshire that would require police to witness violence firsthand before making an arrest.
Too often when we think about domestic violence, however, we think of adults but as this month – Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month – reminds us abuse can happen in relationships of any age.
In fact, did you know that in the U.S. 1 in 3 teens will experience some type of dating abuse in their lifetime or that 1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner?
That’s not all. The statistics when it comes to dating violence among teenagers is startling.
- 80% of teens say they know someone who has been controlled by a partner
- 60% of teens say they know someone who has been physically abused
- 29% of teens say they themselves have been physically abused by someone they were dating
- 29% of girls who have been in a relationship say they’ve been pressured to have sex or to engage in sexual acts when they didn’t want to
- 49% of high school and college aged males report using at least one incident of physical or sexual violence against an intimate partner
- 1 in 4 teens who has been in a serious relationship say their boyfriend or girlfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with friends and family
Experiencing dating violence as a teenager has a number of negative consequences like depression and poor performance in school, engaging in unhealthy behaviors like using drugs and alcohol, and thinking about or attempting suicide. Teenagers who experience dating violence are also more likely to develop an eating disorder and are at a greater risk of victimization when they are older.
Clearly raising awareness of teen dating violence is of utmost importance. We need to talk openly with teenagers about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships so they can learn to recognize warnings signs and tell a trusted adult if they need help.
If you know a teenager in your life who may be at risk and you want to help them, you can direct them to the Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474.
For more information you can also visit loveisrespect.org.
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Photo credit: Photo by David Goehring used under a Creative Commons license.