Discussions surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault typically focus on adult relationships. What is often ignored, however, is that these problems also have a significant impact on teenagers. According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, 1.5 million high schoolers are physically abused in a dating relationship each year.
This troubling statistic is even more problematic in light of the fact that the vast majority of parents simply don’t talk to their kids about domestic violence. Because of this, February has been designated as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in an effort to raise awareness and promote healthier dating habits for teens.
While many of the domestic violence issues that occur in teen relationships are similar to those of adults, teenagers also face several unique challenges. For example, young people are more likely to experience digital abuse, such as a dating partner posting intimate pictures online. Because they are still undergoing physical, mental, and emotional changes, abuse can have far-reaching developmental effects that carry over into adulthood.
Talking about domestic violence and teen dating may feel like a daunting task, but it is essential for parents to understand their teens’ experiences and let them know that help is available. Organizations like the National Dating Abuse Helpline and apps like Circle of 6 and The One Love Foundation can also make it easier for teens to recognize and escape unsafe dating situations.
While dating abuse is a serious problem for teens as well as adults, raising awareness and pointing them in the right direction will help prevent many tragedies.