Teen Dating Violence
Four thousand one hundred and five teens are victims of dating violence daily, meaning that 10% of teens living in the United States have been the victim of dating violence. Why does a counter-trafficking organization care about teen dating violence? Because we know previous abuse puts a young person at higher risk for becoming a victim of trafficking. No teen should ever experience any form of abuse whether it is from a trafficker, or another teen and it is part of our missions to equip parents and caregivers with the tools to prevent this.
What is Teen Dating Violence
Teen dating violence can look a multitude of ways including:
-Physical Violence – bodily harm, hitting, biting, pinching, and shoving
-Emotional Violence – threats, diminishing of self-worth, bullying, purposeful embarrassment
-Sexual Violence – forcing a young person to participate in a sexual act, threatening to spread rumors if they refuse
-Stalking – harassing, repeated uninvited visits, or unwanted consistent electronic communication
How Big is the Problem?
- 1 in 3 adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner – a figure that far exceeds rates of other forms of youth violence.
- Females between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, almost triple the national average.
- Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship reported the abuse.
- Violent behavior typically begins between ages 12-18 years old.
- 81% of parents believe dating violence is not an issue or admit they do not know if it is.
- 82% of parents feel confident they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority 58% could not correctly identify all the warning signs.
Indicators Your Teen is Experiencing Dating Violence
Unhealthy relationship behavior is not uncommon in this age demographic due to the lack of life experience, maturity, and stage of prefrontal cortex development (the portion of the brain responsible for decision making and logic). Keep an eye out for these types of behaviors as they relate to your teen’s dating partner:
- Explosive temper
- Falsely accusing your teen of a variety of things
- Invasions of the others privacy
- Excessive jealousy or insecurity
- Pressuring your teen into unwanted sexual activity
- Blaming your teen for problems in the relationship and not taking responsibility
- Constantly monitoring your teens whereabouts and checking in to see what they are doing and who they are with.
- Ruining your teens property
- Taunting or bullying
- Preventing your teen from hanging out with or talking with other people
If you notice your teen suddenly missing school, changing their appearance, their grades dropping, suddenly showing signs of depression or anger these are cause for concern and worth a conversation.
What To Do
What can the teen in the relationship do?
- Tell Someone
- Document the Abuse
- Leave the relationship
What can parents/caregivers do?
- Listen and give support
- Accept what your teen is telling you
- Show concern
- Talk about the behaviors, not the person
- Avoid ultimatums
- Be prepared and know your resources
- Decide on next steps together
Teaching our young people about healthy relationships and safe dating practices is a great first step in helping prevent this from happening. For more resources on teen relationships or if you believe your teen is in a violent relationship and you need help check out Love is Respect.