Teens Dating Violence

The subject of dating violence has skipped the concern of professionals for too long. Most conservative societies tend to disregard all together the need of intimate partner relationship during adolescence. And the liberal social groups lack awareness on the gravity of the intimate partner violence that the teens suffer; or else the subject would not have been ignored so long.

In sharp contrast to several help lines available for adult intimate partner violence, the help systems developed for teenagers are grossly deficient.  Adolescent victims of dating violence feel desolate without help. Most school psychologists are neither trained to handle the issues related to dating abuse, nor do schools have subscribed protocol.

Caught unaware

The incidence of dating violence among young teenagers is high; statistics vary from 1 in 10 to 1 in 3. And most parents are not even aware of the gravity of dating violence existing in our society.

Often violence with intimate partner is taken as the norm of intimate relationship. Parents do not even consider to educate their children during preteen years on the criteria that define violence and sexual assault in an intimate relationship and acceptable norms for healthy dating. Consequently, teens who start dating are totally unaware of various forms of tormenting they may encounter. 

Teens Dating Violence

Consequences

Dating violence experienced between 11 and 17 years of age mars youths’ optimal psycho social development: The abused victims develop emotional and temperamental instability for life.

They suffer from long term physical ill health and disturbed mental state. As a result they easily take to consumption of drug, alcohol, and tobacco; indulge in high risk activities and unsafe sexual behavior   

Teenage depression, suicidal tendencies and homicidal ideation are also seen in the victims who have been severely abused by the intimate partner, but do not know whom to turn for help.

How violence comes into intimate partner relationship?

Peer pranks and teasing an attractive companion are normal teenage tactics to gain attention and win favors of opposite sex. These behaviors are also taken as innocent fun during a developing relationship. But they sometimes take a devious turn towards violence; in part due to misleading information.

Teenagers seldom talk to their parents on issues related to dating; partly because of parental bias against the children with problematic relationship. Moreover, teenagers usually defy parents’ views and put parents off from any open conversation on the subject. They rely on media, pornography films and peers, who all project violence in intimate relationship as normal.

But violence, however small, can never be normal and should be put to end right at the start. 

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Who are likely to abuse intimate partner relationship?

Adolescents with disturbed upbringing are more likely to be abusive on dates..

Types of dating abuse

Physical abuse:
Pinching, pushing, slapping, hitting, kicking or intentionally injuring the partner in any other way.  

Emotional abuse: 
Threatening, bullying, criticizing and harming partner’s self-esteem. 

Sexual abuse: 
Forcing the partner into non acceptable physical sexual activities.

Stalking induces fear:
Today it is also done by frequent texting,  cyber bullying and sexting

Prevention 

With onset of puberty, children begin to get interested in peers of opposite sex. Teenagers' being involved in intimate relationship is common and natural progression towards adulthood.

Parents should talkto children on intimate relationships:
As early as middle childhood years parents and teachers should acquaint children to healthy dating relationships and possibilities of dating violence. This will not only instill awareness in children, but also open a dialogue on the subject between them and the adults in their environment. They will develop the confidence to discuss the issues related to intimate partner relations with their elders, and will Not have to rely on the information gathered from peers, media and pornography sites and magazines.

Prevention programs need to be developed:
The attitudes towards dating violence need to be changed. Programs that would spread awareness. offer prevention of dating abuse and give support to traumatized youngsters need to be developed; till date the number of such programs, when evaluated worldwide, is negligible.

Recommended program:
Safe Dates, a school-based prevention program is designed to change social norms and improve problem solving skills. One could get help here or even volunteer to be involved in prevention of teens dating abuse.

Related page of interest: Teenagers in love.

References:

  1. Adolescent Dating Violence: A National Assessment of School Counselors' Perceptions and Practices: Jagdish Khubchandani, James H. Price, Amy Thompson, Joseph A. Dake, Michael Wiblishauser and Susan K. Telljohann; Pediatrics 2012;130;202; originally published online July 9, 2012; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-3130

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

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