Having a first date as a teen can be a nerve-wracking experience. The palms become cold and clammy, words are stumbled over, and there’s a high level of awkwardness present in the entire situation. For some teens, however, the entire dating experience isn’t one of awkward joy. It is one of abuse, fear, and pain.
It is estimated that about 1.5 million high school students experience some form of physical abuse from their dating partner every single year.
Teenage Dating Abuse
Although most forms of abuse don’t fall into a “serious” range, forced sexual contact and other forms of abuse, both mental and physical, can be present. Many abusive relationships have more than one form of abuse present as well. This creates a difficult circumstance for the teen caught in such a situation. Do they tell their parents? Talk to a school counselor? Call the police? For many teens, the choice is instead one of quiet endurance. They feel like they deserve the abuse… but no one deserves abuse.
- 33% of US adolescents is a victim of sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional abuse from a dating partner, which far exceeds any other form of youth violence.
- 10% of high school students have been purposely hit, slapped, or hurt in some other way by their dating partner.
- It is estimated that 25% of high school girls have been the victims of sexual or physical abuse at least once by their dating partner.
- Violent behavior within an adolescent can typically begin as young as the age of 12, with even younger incidents occurring when there is a history of abuse with a child.
- Over 70% of eighth and ninth grade students report that they are dating someone.
Because this abuse is left unchecked in many communities, teens today aren’t being given a foundation where they can succeed later in life. That’s backed up by the fact that 7 out of every 10 college students say that they’ve been sexually coerced at least once in their lives. The focus is on teens because their rates of intimate partner violence is nearly triple the national average, which means every child who is a teen is at risk from being abused by their dating partner – even if they don’t believe it is true. That is why it is so important for parents to be involved in the relationships and to even prevent kids from “dating” at the younger ages, especially 12 or younger.
What Increases The Risk of Teenage Dating Abuse?
- The severity of intimate partner violence increases when a pattern of abuse is established during the adolescent years.
- Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls be 6 times more likely to become pregnant and it doubles the risk of STI development.
- Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
- 50% of teens who have suffered from one form of dating violence, which may or may not include sexual violence, will make at least one suicide attempt.
- In the US, there are 8 states that do not include a dating relationship as a form of domestic violence, which prevents other legal protections from being obtained.
- Only 1 state, New Hampshire, specifically allows a teen of any age to apply for a protection order.
With only one juvenile court in the United States focusing exclusively on teen dating violence and only one state providing specific protections to teens in this type of situation, it is easy to see why the rates of abuse are so high. Kids just feel like they don’t have anywhere to go where true protections can be had and that’s reflective in the fact that only one-third of teens in an abuse dating relationship ever tell anyone about the problem. Denial amongst parents is also a problem as a recent survey showed that 81% of them didn’t believe that teen dating abuse is an issue or didn’t know if it was an issue. With confidentiality wanted and confusing laws that may not provide any sort of protection, there are kids right now that are just suffering in silence.
Just How Bad Is Teen Dating Abuse Becoming?
- In a 6 year period, 22% of all homicides against teen girls came at the hands of their dating partner.
- Youth who are involved in same-sex dating are at just as much risk to experience abuse as their counterparts.
- Almost 50% of registered adult sex offenders report that they committed their first sexual offenses while they were teens.
- 50% of the reported date rapes that are reported annually occur among teens.
- 1 out of every 2 parents haven’t spoken to their children about dating violence that could occur.
- 1 out of every 4 teen students knows at least one of their peers who was a victim of dating violence and 1 out of every 10 teen students knows multiple victims.
- One third of today’s teens have personally witnessed at least one form of teenage dating abuse.
- Child whom experience violence are 9 times more likely to be involved in future criminal activity.
- 80% of 21 year olds that sufferr abuse as children have one or more psychological disorders.
- The majority of teen dating abuse occurs in their home with their partner.
In 90% of the rapes that occur when the offender is under the age of 18, so is their victim. Almost half of all teen girls know of a friend or peer who was pressured into some form of sex and nearly 60% of teens today know someone who has abused in their dating relationship in some way. Most teens aren’t going to look for help in resolving an abusive situation either, as 83% of students in a recent survey said they’d get advice from their friends rather than seek out the help of someone in authority. Why does this happen? It could be because one-third of students don’t perceive sex as a way of demonstrating love. It’s instead seen as a way to feel powerful, to control, or to eliminate anger. Until these perceptions and laws change, teenage dating violence is going to continue being a problem I society.