Domestic violence is a serious problem in the United States. Women tend to be victimized more than men. Years of research had revealed that there is a definitive link between domestic violence and homicide. In fact, half of all female murder victims are killed by someone they currently or previously dated.
We know that adult women who have experienced domestic violence at some point in their lives are at greater risk of being killed by someone they know. However, studies now reveal that the same thing may be true for teenagers who have experienced dating violence.
Homicides of Young Teens Linked to Dating Violence
Disputes between teens need to be taken seriously. A study recently discovered that young women who have experienced dating violence are at an increased risk of being killed by a former or current intimate partner. The study, which focused on 2000 adolescent deaths between 2003 and 2016, found that 7% of the victims were killed by a romantic partner.
90% of the victims were female. A large majority of these victims were 17 years old. More than 80% of the murders were carried out by perpetrators who were 18 years or older.
This is quite troubling, since dating violence is pervasive in the United States. The National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence found that more than 60% of teens admit to having experienced some type of dating violence. This includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Since victims tend to underreport abuse, the number of teens affected by dating violence is probably much higher.
It’s important to recognize that teen dating violence is a significant problem. Adults tend to write off arguments between young people. Rather than being taken seriously, they’re dismissed as a natural part of life and a part of growing up. Failing to recognize teen dating violence as a serious issue puts young people, particularly young women, in harm’s way.
Guns Involved in the Majority of Teen Dating Violence Homicides
Guns are the weapon of choice in homicides linked to teen dating violence. In the teen deaths studied, guns were used to inflict fatal injuries 61% of the time. Experts believe that this is partly due to the fact that guns are readily available in many homes across the country.
Many young men who abuse their teen partners do not have the tools or ability to process negative emotions or feelings properly. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to grab a firearm and cause a lot of harm.
This speaks volumes about the lack of education we provide young people about dating violence in the early years of their life. We need to focus more on teaching young people about relationships and how to properly cope with stress and rejection.
Jealousy, Rejection Leading Causes of Teen Homicide
Many factors can motivate homicide. When teenagers are involved, it appears as if certain issues cause violent behavior more often than not. These include:
- Breakups, and
Heated arguments, unrelated to these factors, also contribute to teen dating violence homicides.
Teens who have experienced dating violence should seek help from a trusted adult. Parents, teachers, and school officials can provide a safe space for victims. Intervening early on in a violent relationship can help to stop future abuse and prevent the abuse from escalating.