Teens are seriously at risk for dating violence. Annually, 1 out of 11 adolescents reports being a victim of physical dating abuse (CDC 2006). Like domestic violence perpetuated by adults, teen dating violence is a pattern of controlling, and abusive behaviors of one person over another within a romantic relationship. Teens who abuse their girlfriends or boyfriends often act the same as adults in abusive relationships. Research shows that physical or sexual abuse is a part of 1 in 3 high school relationships. Many of these cases of teen dating violence could have been prevented by helping adolescents to develop skills for healthy relationships with others (Foshee et al. 2005).
Teen dating violence is just as serious as adult domestic violence. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse. It can occur in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. It knows no boundaries and crosses race, socio-economic status, culture, and religion. Violence can happen to anyone. Like adults, teenagers can choose better relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand that they have choices, and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
This month, many of my posts have addressed issues related to breaking the cycle of domestic violence and exposing myths about this phenomenon. Access to information is integral to breaking the cycle of violence. Toward that goal, I would like to direct your attention to very help informational resources related to domestic violence intervention, prevention, and community outreach. For further information on teen dating violence, here are several websites you can visit: www.thesafespace.org; and www.breakthecycle.org.
Unlike every other public health problem, violence permeates the psyche of every man, woman, and child who reside in our extended community. Our society appears to be waiting on a miracle or an outside intervention to change the status quo. The only way we will eradicate domestic violence is when we agree upon coordinated solutions to implement in a collaborative manner. Violence is a condition of the heart that can only change when individual citizens decide that it is time for a change…that it is time for the violence to cease.