After a presentation I had given to an eighth grade class, a female student came up to me and asked me if her boyfriend was abusive if he shoved her into walls during fights. She also expressed other abuses that were occurring and told me that she never thought he was being abusive because she was the one that always made him angry.
This is an all too common example of teen dating violence. Many people believe that abusive relationships do not exist among teens, but abusive relationships exist in all walks of life regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, and religion. In fact, one out of three teenagers experiences abuse in their relationships. Yet the majority of teens who are physically abused continue to date their partner. Unfortunately, just like that eighth grade student, many of these teens do not consider what they are experiencing to be abusive. This is why education about teen dating violence is so important. In recent years the Battered Women’s Services Youth Domestic Violence Prevention and Education Program had educated over 2,500 students in Dutchess County each year on the warning signs of abusive relationships. These presentations are provided free of charge in middle schools, high schools, colleges, and community programs throughout Dutchess County, and Battered Women’s Services provides follow-up counseling for any student who wants it.
This January, the US Senate passed a resolution that named February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. This resolution is a testament to the important work the Battered Women’s Services Youth Domestic Violence Prevention and Education Program has been doing in the community. The Senate has recognized the alarming statistics that show the severity of teen dating violence. Statistics such as:
- One in every three teenage girls experience abuse in their relationship. This is a far greater victimization rate than other forms of violence among teens.*
- Nearly 10% of teens experience physical abuse from their boyfriend or girlfriend.*
- Although most parents (82%) feel they can recognize if their child is in an abusive relationship, many parents (58%) could not correctly identify the warning signs.*
- Many students who are in abusive relationships do not recognize their relationships as abusive.*
- Relationships in which the pattern of violence started during adolescence are shown to have a greater severity of violence.*
Most importantly, the Senate has acknowledged that education is a key piece in the prevention of teen dating violence.
The following year, I had met the same student during another presentation as a freshman in high school. She told me that she had dumped her boyfriend, and thanked me.
|Family Services' Youth Council|
members Lindsey Graham and
Hayley Ferris working on the
Teen Dating Violence Awareness
Project at the Family Partnership Center.
For more information about teen dating violence, please visit http://www.loveisrespect.org/
*Please visit http://www.womenspolicy.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=10378 for more information on this resolution.