Teen dating violence is a disturbing and growing issue. According to the Centers of Disease and Control (CDC), research indicates that dating and sexual violence are quite common among today’s youth. “One in ten high school students self-reported being purposely hit, slapped or physically hurt by a dating partner in a twelve-month period. Further, a physically or sexually abused teen is up to six times more likely to become pregnant; and teens experiencing dating violence are up to 60% more likely to report one or more suicide attempts. Nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relations continue to date their abusers.”
Teen dating violence is defined as the physical, sexual, or psychological/emotional violence within a dating relationship, as well as stalking. It may occur between a current or former dating partner, in person or electronically.
Teens are profoundly influenced by their relationship experiences as they develop emotionally. Healthy relationships can have a positive effect on a teen’s emotional development. Short and long-term negative consequences to a developing teen are caused by unhealthy, abusive or violent relationships. Teen dating violence victims are more likely to perform poorly in school, and report behaviors like binge drinking, suicide attempts, and physical fighting. Unfortunately, victims may carry patterns of violence into future relationships.
A few techniques to keep relationships healthy and non-violent are communication, managing uncomfortable emotions like anger and jealousy, and treating others with respect. Peers, adults, and the media send messages to teens about how to behave in relationships. Violence is NEVER acceptable, but there are reasons why it happens.
Risk factors that contribute to unhealthy relationships rise for teens who:
- Believe it is acceptable to use threats or violence to get their way or to express frustration or anger
- Use alcohol or drugs
- Are unable to manage anger or frustration
- Hang out with peers who are violent
- Have multiple sexual partners
- Have a friend involved in dating violence
- Are depressed or anxious
- Have difficulties learning and other problems at school
- Have little or no parental supervision and support
- Witness violence at home or in the community
- Have a history of aggressive behavior or bullying
In 2010, the Louisiana State Legislature passed House Bill 46. This bill requires public schools to provide dating violence instruction to grades 7 to 12. The mandated instructors, health teachers, are required annually to teach the definition and warning signs of dating violence and the characteristics of a healthy relationship.
If you or someone you know is a victim of an unhealthy relationship, you may visit loveisrespect.org for a live chat or call the helpline at 1-866-331-9474. For more information or materials, please contact the LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocate at 318-992-2067.
Let’s Start Talking About Healthy Relationships!