The statistics are disturbing:
- One in three adolescent girls report that they have experienced physical, emotional, or verbal abuse by a dating partner.
- It’s estimated that two-thirds never report that abuse.
- The Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey finds that 1 in 10 teens report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
- Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.
- Approximately 70% of college students say they have been sexually coerced.
(More statistics here.)
There are good programs around to help teens, educators and families face this troubling and hard-to-talk-about issue. Local and online resources include: REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, Voices Against Violence, and Break the Cycle.
Raising awareness – through this month’s Teen DV Awareness campaign and other activities which educate people about the extent of the problem and help them learn to talk more openly about it — is a positive start. It sounds a bit trite but it does take a village to cope with issues like teen dating violence.
We need to ask ourselves: Do our children have enough caring, supportive adults in their lives who they can turn to if they find themselves in unhealthy relationships?
If you run a youth-serving agency, are you doing all you can to acknowledge the issue and to foster meaningful dialog between your staff and teens about healthy peer relationships?