By Fonda J. Royster, DV Resource Specialist, Family Court Services
Teen Dating Violence, also known as “TDV,” is an increasing public health crisis, especially in Lucas County. Talking around it or avoiding the topic does not eradicate its existence, nor does it decrease the number of youth being affected by it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 3 teens in the U.S. is a victim of physical, social, emotional, and/or verbal abuse from a dating partner. 1 in 11 female high school students experience physical dating violence; 1 in 14 in males.1 in 8 female high school students experience sexual dating violence; 1 in 26 in males.
Sexual minority groups are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence, as well as some racial/ethnic minority groups. Young adults in LGBTQ relationships worry that their partner will out them to their family and friends.
When unaddressed, teen violence has significant short-term and long-term effects on the survivors. This includes, but not limited to: symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, substance abuse, self-mutilation (cutting), and suicidal ideation/suicide attempts.
Technology adds fuel to the fire regarding TDV. The Center for Prevention of Abuse (CFPA) found that teens in abusive intimate relationships reported that their partner sends them texts/emails/etc. to engage in unwanted sex acts, which includes sending sexually explicit photos of themselves. Teens in abusive intimate relationships also reported that their partner tampered with their social networking accounts without permission and their partners read their text messages without consent.
HOW TO COUNTERATTACK TEEN DATING VIOLENCE
According to the CFPA, 80 percent percent of parents either don’t believe that TDV is an issue or don’t know anything about it. So it is imperative that caregivers, adolescents, teachers, medical professionals, and law enforcement are educated on how to identify the signs of teen dating abuse. These signs include: physical (hitting, kicking), verbal/emotional (name calling, threatening), sexual (rape, refusal to use contraception), financial monitoring spending, harassment at the workplace), digital (has passwords, pressure to send explicit messages), and stalking (showing up uninvited, tracking on social media platforms).
Moreover, preventative measures need to occur. An important measure is learning about health relationships. Healthy relationships involve:
- Trust between both partners.
- Open and honest communication between both partners.
- Setting appropriate boundaries in the relationship.
- Both partner have positive support individually and collectively.
- Both partners are able to utilize conflict resolution skills in a positive manner.
- Both partners encourage each other’s independence
The CFPA found that 50 percent of teens know about a peer experiencing dating abuse, but do not intervene. Adolescent bystanders need to confide in a trusted adult in their life. Speaking out saves lives.
The CDC found that only 30 percent of teens in violent relationships report the abuse. It is important that these teens are given access to tools that promote the teens’ emotional well-being and physical safety. “Love is Respect,” is a national dating abuse helpline that offers confidential support for teens, young adults, and their loved ones seeking help, resources, or information related to healthy relationships and dating abuse in the US. They are available by text (“LOVEIS” to 22522) or phone call (866.331.9474), or live chat online.
Locally, adolescents can go to the following:
St. Vincent’s Emergency Room.
St. Vincent Medical Center
2213 Cherry Street, Toledo, Ohio 43608
St. Vincent’s Emergency Room provides young people assistance with safety planning, bridging the gap to tell their parents, and referrals to Trauma Recovery Services (TRS) to assist with counseling to assist the teen, and so much more.
Adolescents, families, and communities need to understand that the relationships that adolescents have today can mold the relationships teens have in the future. Dating violence during adolescence is a precursor to domestic or intimate partner violence in adulthood. Therefore, as a society we have to SPEAK OUT against it and keep implementing strategies to fight against Dating Teen Violence.
Fonda J. Royster
Family Court Services
Lucas County Juvenile Court