In the U.S., teen dating violence is a serious issue. Due to embarrassment and fear, many teens do not report it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 54 percent of high school students reported dating violence among their peers. Also, one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
Teens in violent relationships are at an increased health risk. Along with physical injury, teens who are dating violence victims are also more likely to commit suicide, binge drink, and be sexually promiscuous. Also, rates of drug, tobacco and drug use are twice as high among dating violence victims. Overall, dating violence can negatively affect teens throughout their entire lives.
Dating violence can be prevented.
One key thing to prevent violence is for the caregiver of the teen to discuss the importance of developing healthy relations. Teens need to understand and recognize a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy relationship.
Here are some key tips if you or someone you know is a victim of teen dating violence:
First, stay calm. Your reaction could affect how your teen reacts to her situation. Also, create a safe haven for communications for your teen. Your teen may need time to freely express her situation and may pull away out of fear. Be patient and give her time to explain her feelings. Reaffirm that you are not upset or offended by her feelings or emotions but you respect her privacy and are concerned for her safety.
Do not threaten to harm or seek revenge on her dating partner. These actions may cause your teen to avoid talking about any future dating situations.
Also, thank your teen for sharing and revealing the situation. Reassure the teen that you have her best interests at heart. Discuss different professional resources to deal with the situation. For example, consider visiting a counselor or contacting the resources below for additional information.
Additional sources regarding teen dating violence include:
Choose Respect Initiative - www.chooserespect.org
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)