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Teen Dating Violence

National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center,
www.safeyouth.org/scripts/teens/dating.asp (Access Date-10/9/05)

"How frequently does dating violence occur? It's difficult to say...Some studies only ask about physical abuse, while others include questions about psychological and emotional abuse and sexual violence. Past estimates of dating violence among middle school and high school students range from 28% to 96%."

"One recent national survey found that 1 in 11 high-school students said they had been hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year. 1 in 11 students also reported that they had been forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to."

What You Can Do:


1. Know the early warning signs that you're in a dating situation or relationship that could have the potential to become violent.


2. If you are in a violent, or potentially violent relationship, take the following steps:


3. Be on the lookout for friends that may be in violent dating situations or relationships. Do any of your friends' relationships show the warning signs listed above? Do your friends show signs that they have been physically abused or injured in some way? Friends in abusive relationships may also:
If you believe your friend is in serious danger, talk with an adult you trust immediately about your friend's situation so that you aren't carrying the burden by yourself. Do not try to "rescue" your friend or be a hero and try to handle the situation on your own.

4. Take action if you suspect that someone you know is being abusive. If you feel you are not in danger, talk to the person about his or her use of violence, and make sure that the person understands that it is both wrong and illegal. If the person is ready to make a change, help him or her to get help.

Teens and Dating Violence: Tips for parents

(Canadian Red Cross, www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=007980&tid=030)

Take young relationships seriously.Don't underestimate the intensity of young feelings or minimize the importance of young relationships.

Know that both males and females can be abused"emotionally, physically and sexually"in a relationship.

Pay attention to warning signs. Youth feel a high level of loyalty to their peers. Most young people do not tell their parents about violence within their dating relationships. Instead, youth generally idealize their partners and internalize the blame. Some symptoms are obvious: ask about tell-tale bruising or other injuries, and don't ignore it if your teen seems to be terribly upset often when talking on the phone, whether sad, angry or begging for forgiveness. Other symptoms of abuse among adolescents may include sudden personality changes and extreme mood swings, persistent depression, drop in school performance, withdrawal from activities, sudden phobic behavior, self-destructive or risk-taking behavior, drug or alcohol abuse, development of eating disorders, and sudden alienation from peers and/or family.

Educate young people to know these danger signals:

A youth may be abused if he/she
- believes they must be in a relationship to be happy
- "walks on eggshells"
- gives up friends and enjoyable activities for a partner
- is afraid to express his/her own opinion
- accepts or excuses inappropriate behavior
- believes that jealousy/possessiveness are signs of love

A youth may be abusive if he/she
- controls the relationship using threats, intimidation, criticism or ridicule
- becomes angry easily; has a temper or is a "bad loser"
- is unable to talk about negative feelings
- approves and justifies violent behavior
- becomes excessively jealous or possessive; wants to limit a partners contact with others
- believes in and wants to enforce traditional roles
- uses alcohol/drugs

If a young person tells you about dating violence:
- Listen without judging; believe
- Recognize your own feelings are separate from the youth's feelings
- Realize your limitations in providing support; help the youth access other helping resources
- Discuss options: counseling, reporting, laying charges, medical needs, etc.
- Let the youth be in control and support his/her decisions

One in five girls reported boyfriends had threatened violence when they tired to break up with them, and 26 percent of female respondents had endured repeated verbal abuse from their partner. However, of the teens that had experienced physical and verbal violence, only 33 percent had reported what was going on.
(Dr. Petra Boynton, Sex and Relationship Psychologist, Dangers of Teen Dating, www.drpetra.com).


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