Posted: March 3, 2023
Love Shouldn’t Hurt: Understanding and Addressing Teen Dating Violence
How many of you have teens, or are a teen? I don’t know about you, but I’m terrified of my teens getting their hearts broken, or worse. Statistics show that teen dating violence is getting worse and it affects MILLIONS of teens each year, and I’m seeing it affect many of the teens here in middle Georgia.
Data from CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2019 indicate that among U.S. high school students who reported dating during the 12 months before the survey:
- About 1 in 12 experienced physical dating violence.
- About 1 in 12 experienced sexual dating violence.
Teen dating violence takes many forms such as physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, many teens who experience these things don’t even report it for reasons such as fear of getting in trouble or not even knowing it was abuse. Staying silent can leave them feeling alone, scared, and helpless. Teen dating violence can cause long-lasting problems such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. These teens can also have an increased risk of thinking about suicide. They may get involved in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol use, self-harm, and they’re more likely to engage in future abusive relationships.
So, what can we do to prevent teen dating violence and support those who are already affected by it? These are five practical ways that we can help:
- Educate teens about healthy relationships: Help teens learn what healthy relationships look like while also teaching them ways to recognize abusive behavior. Teach them the warning signs of abuse and what to do if they are being abused.
- Encourage open and honest communication: Teens should feel comfortable talking to their parents, teachers, or other trusted adults about their relationships. This can help them get the support they need to leave abusive relationships.
- Provide resources: Teens should know where they can turn for help if they are experiencing abuse. This can include hotlines, crisis centers, and counseling services.
- Hold perpetrators accountable: Abusive behavior should not be tolerated, and those who engage in it should be held accountable for their actions. This can include legal consequences, as well as educational and counseling programs.
- Support victims: Victims of teen dating violence need our support and understanding. We can help them get involved in counseling, legal assistance, or even help them talk to the school about changing their classes if the perpetrator is in them.