More Than 10 Percent of US Teenagers Victims of Dating Violence

By Vishakha Sonawane, Parent Herald May 13, 09:17 am
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Data released by the U.S Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reveals that around 10 percent of the country's teenagers face dating violence.

The CDC said that the violence includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse. In physical abuse a partner can be a victim of hitting, shoving, pinching and also kicking whereas emotional abuse comprises of threatening, bullying, shaming, name-calling or isolating the partner. Victims of dating violence are also sexually abused.

"Dating violence happens, and it's more common than we think," said Dr Yolanda Evans, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the division of adolescent medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital. "We need to talk to teens about it."

The victims of such abuse take to drinking and smoking and are depressive and suicidal. These teens are also likely to experiment with drugs, suffer from eating disorders and do not perform well at schools. CDC also noted that youngsters who faced dating violence in their school life continue to be abused as young adults too.

According to CDC, the abuse usually begins with teasing and name-calling that teens take casually. However, this many times turns into serious violence such as rape or physical abuse.

Nancy Diaz, a domestic violence consultant explained the complexity of the dating violence. She said that if a teenage girl slaps a teen boy, it is not abuse according to the boy because it does not hurt him. Some girls are forced to have sex with all the friends of their boyfriends. "That's rape, but the girls don't think of it as rape," Diaz said.

Dr Evans suggested parents of the teens should know about their child's partner. "Invite them in, or offer to drive them somewhere," she said. "Just make sure you know who they're connecting with."

She also advised the parents not to ignore hints such as social isolation, withdrawal from friends and activities. "Look for sores, bruises or scratches, and check out what they're doing on social media like Facebook and Tumblr."

Diaz said that immediate changes in a girl's dressing also hint at possible abuse. She might be covering hickeys, or her boyfriend might want her to dress in a different way so that other boys are not attracted towards her. "Are they home earlier? Constantly texting?" Diaz asked. "I've heard of a boyfriend who wanted his girlfriend to have the webcam on her computer on all the time so he could see what she was doing. That's stalking."

The experts suggested parents be upfront and not confrontational with the children. "Say, 'I've noticed that you're home a lot more. How is John treating you?'" advised Diaz. "Have a conversation and try not to judge. Let your teen know that they can come and talk to you no matter what."

Dr Evans said that the communication plays an important role to find out what is your teen going through. "The more you talk to your teen and are open with them, they'll know it's OK to come to you," she said. "Tell them if they ever want to talk, you're always there for them. And, let them know if they want to talk to other adults in their life, that's OK, too."

However, what role does the school play in all this is not clear. According to the researchers, over 80 percent of schools in the U.S. do not have set of rules to help victims of dating violence. But, 61 percent of counselors at the school said that lot of teenagers have sought their advice on dating violence.

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