On average teenagers downplay domestic violence. Many either do not know the signs or neglect to adhere to the warning signs that they have an abusive partner. “It can’t happen to me” or “That’s someone else’s problem” is the general misconception many teens take on the topic. Although domestic violence may be discussed in a health class, D.A.R.E class (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), or assembly it generally is taken with a “grain of salt” by most teens as they believe it could not be applicable to them.
Unfortunately abuse among teenagers is not a parent’s only concern. Domestic Violence in abusive relationships now stems down into the tween sector as well. Both teens and tweens are experiencing disturbing levels of violence in their dating relationships. Only half of those recognize the warning signs of a dangerous relationship. I know I know, I am right with you as a parent, I too feel tweens should not even be dating! For those that are unfamiliar with the term “tweens” they are adolescents between the ages of 11 and 14. While I do find it disturbing that these KIDS which is what I consider them to be are having “relationships”, we as parents, teachers, and mentors have to have the knowledge and courage to tackle this topic no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.
We have to counter attack statistics like forty percent of our youngest tweens, those between the ages of 11 and 12 report that their friends are victims of verbal abuse in relationships. Seventy-two percent, nearly three-in-four tweens (11 and 12) say boyfriend/girlfriend relationships usually begin at 14 or younger. Astoundingly, one-in-ten say their friends have had sex!!!! 20 percent of kids 13 and 14 say their friends are victims of dating violence described as getting slapped, kicked or struck. While nearly half of all tweens say they know friends who are verbally abused, only half claimed to know the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. I find these facts alarming and unsettling having tween children myself. It also motivates me to stay VERY involved, in their lives and I encourage you all to do the same. If your presence is not recognized by your children (yes they do notice) you don’t have a fighting chance.
Teenagers also very frequently experience violence in their boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. Statistically one in three teens have experienced some type of violence in a romantic relationship. The parallels to teenager violence are very similar to those of adult abusive relationships. The abuse does not discriminate. It expands across all races, levels of education, economic, and social divides. Young women are the primary victims. Women 16 to 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence. An alarming forty percent of teenage girls say they know someone that has been beaten by their boyfriend. In actuality most teenagers are too young to really deal with all the aspects of a “serious relationship”, despite what may think. However we have all been there, 16, young, naive, and know all there is know about the world. So we as parents need to become proactive and educate our youth on the topic. We need to enforce the importance of dating safety, such as:
Abuse in any relationship is dangerous. It is exacerbated in a teen relationship. Domestic Violence in a teen dating relationship can be even more confusing, frightening, and difficult. While we as parents, teachers, churches, and communities can all help intervene in teen dating violence, we also need to encourage our teens to learn how to reach out and help friends who are victims in an abusive relationship rather than minimizing the violence. Teen dating violence is as big of an issue as adult violence. The unsettling issue in teen dating violence is the individuals involved often still have the mindset of a child, who is growing, learning, and developing who they are as a person. We cannot expect them to be able to handle teen dating violence on their own we must get and stay involved!
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