Intimate Partner Violence Month: Teen dating violence (Week 3)

October 16, 2019

October is Intimate Partner Awareness Month (also known as Domestic Violence). This week this column will address a related topic: Teen Dating Violence. Dating violence is widespread with serious longterm and short-term effects. Many teens do not report it because they are afraid to tell friends and family.

A 2018 National Survey by the Centers for Disease Control reported that U.S. High School students indicate high levels of teen dating violence, a risk factor for intimate partner violence in adulthood. Among students who reported dating, 9 percent of girls and 7 percent of boys had experienced physical dating violence and 11 percent of girls and 3 percent of boys had experienced sexual dating violence in the past 12 months before the survey. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely, according to the report, to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. They might also engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol.* Youth must be taught the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships before they begin dating. Youth.gov compiled a list of traits that distinguishes between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Due to space limitations, three characteristics each are presented. See more at: http://youth.gov/youth-topics/teen-dating-violence/characteristics

Healthy relationships

Healthy relationships share certain characteristics that teens should be taught to expect. They include:

• Mutual respect. Respect means that each person values who the other is and understands the other person’s boundaries.

• Honesty. Honesty builds trust and strengthens the relationship.

• Individuality. Neither partner should have to compromise who he/she is, and his/her identity should not be based on a partner’s. Each should continue seeing his/ her friends and doing the things he/she loves. Each should be supportive of his/ her partner wanting to pursue new hobbies or make new friends.

Unhealthy relationships

Unhealthy relationships are marked by characteristics such as disrespect and control. It is important for youth to be able to recognize signs of unhealthy relationships before they escalate. Some characteristics of unhealthy relationships include:

• Control. One dating partner makes all the decisions and tells the other what to do, what to wear, or who to spend time with. He or she is unreasonably jealous, and/or tries to isolate the other partner from his or her friends and family.

• Physical violence. One partner uses force to get his or her way (such as hitting, slapping, grabbing, or shoving).

• Sexual Violence. One dating partner pressures or forces the other into sexual activity against his or her will or without consent.

Beloved, it is extremely important to educate youth about the value of respect and the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships before they start to date. Youth may not be equipped with the necessary skills to develop and maintain healthy relationships, and may not know how to break up in an appropriate way when necessary. Maintaining open lines of communication with one’s teen may help them form healthy relationships and recognize the signs of unhealthy relationships, thus preventing dating violence before it starts.

Note: The National Domestic Violence Hotline/ 1-800-799-7233

*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Teen Dating Violence

Next Week: Conclusion – Breaking the Cycle of Abuse

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