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Teen Dating Violence: What Every Child and Parent Must Know

If there ever was any doubt in your mind where adult domestic violence has its’ roots-put your inquisitive mind at rest. It starts with our kids!! In a recent study partnered by Teenage Research Unlimited and the Liz Claiborne Corp., teens 13-18 were surveyed on the frequency of dating violence in their lives. The study revealed some shocking statistics and facts about the teen dating scene. Among many conclusions are that a significant percentage of teens not only are victims of dating abuse but also they accept it as normal and that they feel pressured to have and keep relationships particularly if it is a “serious” one. Teens in these serious relationships report by nearly a 2 to 1 margin more abuse, controlling and even violent behavior compared to other teens.

The study also showed that:  20% in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed  30% report being worried about their physical safety  64% report controlling behavior  55% compromise their values to please their partner  61% reported having a partner who made them feel bad or embarrassed about themselves  25% report being in a relationship where their partner put them down or called them names  29% said they were pressured to have sex they do not want.  50% of young women worry that their partner will break up with them if they do not agree to engage in sex It is no wonder that this problem exists with teenage male belief systems that include:  Controlling their partners  Possessing their partners  Demanding intimacy  Physical aggression is the “masculine” thing to do Teenage female beliefs include:  There’s no resource for help  Abuse is normal because their peers are abused  Jealousy, possessiveness and even abuse are “romantic” Historically other studies and surveys support these findings. This serves as pretty solid evidence that teenagers grow up in a society that frowns on adult domestic violence, yet it appears they serve their apprenticeships in high school learning the nuances of how to abuse. Do they learn on their own or do they learn from their abusive parents? It is a very difficult question to answer nevertheless the cycle must be broken. Today’s youth represent the best chance to make a change.

Here’s how to start. Educate and Prevent. Know Some Warning Signs. Is there a history of violence with previous partners? Are there threats of violence, use of force? Is there cruelty to animals? Are traits of sudden anger, jealousy, verbal abuse, controlling behavior, unpredictable mood swings present? All or any of these can be predictors of future behavior and definite warning signs. Set Standards. Only allow double dates for the first few dates. Know exactly what the plans are-who, where, what, when-be very specific. Remember: Trust but Verify. You love your children. It is your responsibility to set the standards for their actions.

Develop a Safety Plan. In an emergency know who to call: police, relative, parents, friend, neighbor, pastor-have a calling card handy. Know who you can trust to talk to. Develop a buddy system at school so you are never alone. Change your route to school if necessary. Carry some non lethal self defense items-pepper spray, personal defense alarms, etc. Trust your instincts. Above all be prepared. Knowing what to look for and keeping an open mind may end up saving you a lot of pain.


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