Teen dating violence is a significant problem that should not be ignored. A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates one out of 11 female high school students reported being the victim of physical dating violence within that year. For male high school students, one out of every 14 reported being the victim of such violence.
It’s important that victims are familiar with their legal rights in these circumstances. Although laws regarding teen dating violence vary from one state to another, generally, victims can take action to protect themselves.
However, it’s also critically important that we take steps to stop teen dating violence before it occurs in the first place. The following are potential ways to achieve this goal:
Understanding the Signs of Teen Dating Violence
It’s not always immediately clear when teen dating violence is happening. Thus, teens, educators, and parents should familiarize themselves with certain warning signs.
Potential signs of teen dating violence include the following:
- Excessive jealousy
- Excessive anger
- Moodiness beyond what is normal
- Pressure to engage in unwanted sexual activity
- Controlling behaviors
- Verbal bullying
- One partner constantly monitoring the whereabouts of another
- One partner consistently blaming the other for problems in the relationship instead of taking responsibility
These warning signs may not always indicate that teen dating violence has already happened. That said, they may still indicate that it could happen in the future if action is not taken to address the issue.
Understanding What Teen Dating Violence Is
Teen dating violence is a common type of intimate partner violence. It can take many forms. Although teen dating violence sometimes takes the form of clear physical or sexual violence, that is not always the case.
For example, sometimes teen dating violence involves economic abuse. A teenager may be the victim of a form of violence if their partner is stealing from them or otherwise taking advantage of them financially. This is a serious form of abuse, as it can have major implications for a victim’s financial and/or professional future. For instance, someone committing this form of teen dating violence may be holding a partner back from achieving their career goals.
Teen dating violence can also be verbal or emotional in nature. The fact that a victim was not physically assaulted doesn’t mean that the words and behaviors of their partner aren’t harming them in ways that may be imperceptible to many.
Teaching Teens to Recognize Warning Signs
Educators and parents must familiarize themselves with the signs of teen dating violence. Understanding the warning signs improves their ability to intervene in a timely manner.
However, it’s not always possible for an adult to intervene, even if they are properly informed about the nature of teen dating violence. This is because sometimes, they are not able to see the signs. This might happen if a teen is dating someone who behaves well when parents and teachers are present. Or, it can occur when a teen is dating someone their parents and educators rarely ever see.
This is why it’s also essential that teens be taught to recognize the signs that they are the victims of violence. Additionally, teens must know that certain behaviors they may regard as “harmless” actually qualify as violent acts.
In the home, parents can simply explain to their teens what types of behaviors they should not accept or commit in relationships. In school, lessons about the signs of teen dating violence can be incorporated into Health classes. A focus on educating teens properly could reduce the rate of teen dating violence across the country by promoting healthy behavior and overall awareness.
Again, the issue of teen dating violence needs to be addressed. These are a few ways to do that. Along with expanding awareness of this problem, we can further guard against teen dating violence by enacting legislation to provide victims with more assistance than they currently have. The current laws in some states may need to be improved to ensure greater protection for victims.