Violence in Teen Dating

Reviewed Jan 28, 2017

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Summary

Teen dating violence involves the use of physical, emotional or sexual abuse by one partner to gain power and control over the other person.

Violence in teen dating is serious, prevalent, and crosses all socioeconomic and ethnic lines. If you haven’t considered the possibility that your teen could become a victim, take a look at these statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • One in four adolescents report verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from a dating partner each year.
  • About 10 percent of students nationwide report being physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past 12 months. 

The numbers are even scarier when you consider the “big picture.” According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics, 30 percent of female homicide victims in the United States are killed by their boyfriends or husbands.

Parents can help protect their children from dating violence by knowing the facts and watching for warning signs of abuse.

Warning signs of abuse

Teen dating violence involves the use of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by one partner to gain power and control over the other person. Although boys can be victims, experts say that girls are much more likely to experience dating violence. Parents should know that girls who exhibit these warning signs may be in a dangerous relationship:

  • She has become isolated from friends or family since she met her boyfriend.
  • Her grades have declined during the relationship.
  • She has started skipping school or wants to drop out of school.
  • She has bruises or other injuries she can’t explain.
  • She has emotional outbursts or crying spells.
  • Her personality, attitude, or appearance has changed since the start of her relationship.
  • She has become secretive.
  • She must tell him where she is at all times, and talk to him immediately if she misses his call.
  • She makes excuses for his bad behavior.
  • She has become very critical of herself or very indecisive.

The abusive partner may also exhibit some telltale clues:

  • He becomes jealous or angry easily.
  • He has been physically or emotionally abused.
  • He drinks or uses drugs.
  • He roughhouses with his girlfriend frequently.

What parents can do

If you think your teen is in an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to help. Try to avoid creating a power struggle by scolding her or ordering her to stop seeing her partner. However, you can:

  • Ask your teenager questions about signs of abuse. Maintain open lines of communication and provide a safety net for your child.
  • Talk with her so she understands what to expect from a healthy relationship and how to recognize abuse.
  • Remain supportive. Listen to and acknowledge your teen’s feelings.
  • Focus on her safety rather than on breaking up the relationship.
  • Tell people about the abuse. That way your teen will have a group of people watching out for her.
  • Call the police if necessary and help your daughter get a criminal restraining order.

Parents also can help keep teens safe by learning about the beliefs that contribute to dating violence and working to change them. Young men who abuse their partners may believe that they have the right to “control” females or that they “own” their girlfriends. Some may believe that physical aggressiveness defines masculinity and that they will lose respect if they act supportive with a girlfriend. On the other hand, young women may believe that a boyfriend’s aggressiveness or jealousy is “romantic,” and that abuse is normal. They may feel responsible for solving problems in the relationship or keeping their partners happy any way they can.

Resources

If you feel your teen needs additional help, check your phone book or the web for local resources. Many community organizations work to prevent domestic and dating violence.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline also operates a toll-free crisis call center 24 hours a day at (800) 799-SAFE. [(800) 787-3224 TTY]

By Kristen Knight
Source: Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, www.acadv.org; American Psychological Association, www.apa.org; The Bradley-Angle House, http://bradleyangle.org/; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov

Summary

Teen dating violence involves the use of physical, emotional or sexual abuse by one partner to gain power and control over the other person.

Violence in teen dating is serious, prevalent, and crosses all socioeconomic and ethnic lines. If you haven’t considered the possibility that your teen could become a victim, take a look at these statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • One in four adolescents report verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from a dating partner each year.
  • About 10 percent of students nationwide report being physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past 12 months. 

The numbers are even scarier when you consider the “big picture.” According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics, 30 percent of female homicide victims in the United States are killed by their boyfriends or husbands.

Parents can help protect their children from dating violence by knowing the facts and watching for warning signs of abuse.

Warning signs of abuse

Teen dating violence involves the use of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by one partner to gain power and control over the other person. Although boys can be victims, experts say that girls are much more likely to experience dating violence. Parents should know that girls who exhibit these warning signs may be in a dangerous relationship:

  • She has become isolated from friends or family since she met her boyfriend.
  • Her grades have declined during the relationship.
  • She has started skipping school or wants to drop out of school.
  • She has bruises or other injuries she can’t explain.
  • She has emotional outbursts or crying spells.
  • Her personality, attitude, or appearance has changed since the start of her relationship.
  • She has become secretive.
  • She must tell him where she is at all times, and talk to him immediately if she misses his call.
  • She makes excuses for his bad behavior.
  • She has become very critical of herself or very indecisive.

The abusive partner may also exhibit some telltale clues:

  • He becomes jealous or angry easily.
  • He has been physically or emotionally abused.
  • He drinks or uses drugs.
  • He roughhouses with his girlfriend frequently.

What parents can do

If you think your teen is in an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to help. Try to avoid creating a power struggle by scolding her or ordering her to stop seeing her partner. However, you can:

  • Ask your teenager questions about signs of abuse. Maintain open lines of communication and provide a safety net for your child.
  • Talk with her so she understands what to expect from a healthy relationship and how to recognize abuse.
  • Remain supportive. Listen to and acknowledge your teen’s feelings.
  • Focus on her safety rather than on breaking up the relationship.
  • Tell people about the abuse. That way your teen will have a group of people watching out for her.
  • Call the police if necessary and help your daughter get a criminal restraining order.

Parents also can help keep teens safe by learning about the beliefs that contribute to dating violence and working to change them. Young men who abuse their partners may believe that they have the right to “control” females or that they “own” their girlfriends. Some may believe that physical aggressiveness defines masculinity and that they will lose respect if they act supportive with a girlfriend. On the other hand, young women may believe that a boyfriend’s aggressiveness or jealousy is “romantic,” and that abuse is normal. They may feel responsible for solving problems in the relationship or keeping their partners happy any way they can.

Resources

If you feel your teen needs additional help, check your phone book or the web for local resources. Many community organizations work to prevent domestic and dating violence.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline also operates a toll-free crisis call center 24 hours a day at (800) 799-SAFE. [(800) 787-3224 TTY]

By Kristen Knight
Source: Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, www.acadv.org; American Psychological Association, www.apa.org; The Bradley-Angle House, http://bradleyangle.org/; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov

Summary

Teen dating violence involves the use of physical, emotional or sexual abuse by one partner to gain power and control over the other person.

Violence in teen dating is serious, prevalent, and crosses all socioeconomic and ethnic lines. If you haven’t considered the possibility that your teen could become a victim, take a look at these statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • One in four adolescents report verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from a dating partner each year.
  • About 10 percent of students nationwide report being physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past 12 months. 

The numbers are even scarier when you consider the “big picture.” According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics, 30 percent of female homicide victims in the United States are killed by their boyfriends or husbands.

Parents can help protect their children from dating violence by knowing the facts and watching for warning signs of abuse.

Warning signs of abuse

Teen dating violence involves the use of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by one partner to gain power and control over the other person. Although boys can be victims, experts say that girls are much more likely to experience dating violence. Parents should know that girls who exhibit these warning signs may be in a dangerous relationship:

  • She has become isolated from friends or family since she met her boyfriend.
  • Her grades have declined during the relationship.
  • She has started skipping school or wants to drop out of school.
  • She has bruises or other injuries she can’t explain.
  • She has emotional outbursts or crying spells.
  • Her personality, attitude, or appearance has changed since the start of her relationship.
  • She has become secretive.
  • She must tell him where she is at all times, and talk to him immediately if she misses his call.
  • She makes excuses for his bad behavior.
  • She has become very critical of herself or very indecisive.

The abusive partner may also exhibit some telltale clues:

  • He becomes jealous or angry easily.
  • He has been physically or emotionally abused.
  • He drinks or uses drugs.
  • He roughhouses with his girlfriend frequently.

What parents can do

If you think your teen is in an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to help. Try to avoid creating a power struggle by scolding her or ordering her to stop seeing her partner. However, you can:

  • Ask your teenager questions about signs of abuse. Maintain open lines of communication and provide a safety net for your child.
  • Talk with her so she understands what to expect from a healthy relationship and how to recognize abuse.
  • Remain supportive. Listen to and acknowledge your teen’s feelings.
  • Focus on her safety rather than on breaking up the relationship.
  • Tell people about the abuse. That way your teen will have a group of people watching out for her.
  • Call the police if necessary and help your daughter get a criminal restraining order.

Parents also can help keep teens safe by learning about the beliefs that contribute to dating violence and working to change them. Young men who abuse their partners may believe that they have the right to “control” females or that they “own” their girlfriends. Some may believe that physical aggressiveness defines masculinity and that they will lose respect if they act supportive with a girlfriend. On the other hand, young women may believe that a boyfriend’s aggressiveness or jealousy is “romantic,” and that abuse is normal. They may feel responsible for solving problems in the relationship or keeping their partners happy any way they can.

Resources

If you feel your teen needs additional help, check your phone book or the web for local resources. Many community organizations work to prevent domestic and dating violence.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline also operates a toll-free crisis call center 24 hours a day at (800) 799-SAFE. [(800) 787-3224 TTY]

By Kristen Knight
Source: Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, www.acadv.org; American Psychological Association, www.apa.org; The Bradley-Angle House, http://bradleyangle.org/; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov

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