Adolescents who experience dating violence are not only at an increased risk of being physically injured, but are also more likely to report binge drinking, suicide attempts, physical fighting, and sexual activity.Violence in teen dating relationships is alarmingly commonplace.The majority of these programs have focused on increasing students' awareness and knowledge about dating violence, changing attitudes and norms that condone violence, and building conflict resolution and communication skills.Given that many of these prevention programs have only been short-term interventions, the results are particularly encouraging and demonstrate a potential to impact public health.
"It has to be taken very seriously."Spinks-Franklin say she has seen violence even among relationships between 10- and 11-year-olds."If a parent is concerned that a child is in an unhealthy relationship, they need to address it, but do it in a way that doesn't make the child shut down," she says.Teen victims may be especially vulnerable due to their inexperience in dating relationships, their susceptibility to peer pressure and their reluctance to tell an adult about the abuse (Cohall, 1999).Further, many adolescents have difficulty recognizing physical and sexual abuse as such and may perceive controlling and jealous behaviors as signs of love (Levy, 1990).Authors of the new report note that the CDC has changed the way it phrases its questions about teen dating violence, leading more students to report assaults.Teens who have experienced dating violence are at much higher risk for a variety of serious problems.Further research is needed to enhance our understanding of adolescent dating violence including the nature of conflicts, as well as the meaning, context, intent, and consequences of the violence and the role of gender.A number of school based programs focusing on reducing violence in teen dating relationships and promoting healthy respectful relationships show promising results."They need to feel safe telling a parent."Teens often hide the abuse from their parents, Spinks-Franklin says.Teens may not be able to confide in friends, either, because abusers sometimes isolate their victims from loved ones.Teens are sometimes more willing to talk to doctors, especially if their parents are not in the room.Pediatrician Claire Mc Carthy says she talks about healthy relationships with her adolescent patients and asks if sex is consensual, but she says it is hard for doctors to find time to delve into such intimate issues, given that most pediatric appointments last only 15 minutes.