On February 14th, of course, we celebrate Valentine’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate and acknowledge those we love. February is also a time to be aware of love gone awry, especially among an increasing number of teens. In 2010, response to the millions of high school students nationwide who experience abuse from a dating partner each year, Congress designated each February as Teen Domestic Violence Month.
Teen domestic violence isn’t just about hitting. It also includes yelling, threatening, or acts of possessiveness or harassment, such as constant phone calling or paging. A recent proclamation by President Obama highlights the severity of the problem--one in 10 high school students nationally report abuse by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Even more high school girls (one in five) experience sexual abuse by a dating partner. When we add reports of verbal or emotional abuse, like shaming or threats, the number increases to one in three teens.
Teens who are in abusive relationships almost never (two out of three) tell anyone, and according to the research, victims of teen dating violence are more likely to abuse drugs, tobacco, or alcohol; have eating disorders; or even commit suicide.
Many of us involved in crime prevention have at some point in our careers been involved in educating and working to prevent domestic violence among adults. As practitioners, parents, community volunteers, and youth leaders, what are we doing to address this growing problem of domestic violence among youth in the United States? We would love to hear some of the strategies that you are using in your community to help address this problem.