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What is teen dating violence?
As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen dating violence is “the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner.”1 Violence in teen dating relationships has become one the most dangerous issues in which teens of this and recent generations have had to face. Every individual was created with a natural desire to hold a place of significance in the world and in the life of others. Unfortunately, it is typical in cases of dating abuse, that these natural desires are used to manipulate others to give in to selfish desires of the abuser.
How does this happen?
When considering teen dating violence, we must consider some significant factors surrounding such a monumental time in development. It is during the middle and high school years in which critical physical, social and emotional developments occur. During this age, teens begin forming social and romantic relationships and no longer look solely to parents or guardians for affirmation,
Another consideration is the difference between teen and adult abusers. Teen aren’t fully developed and don’t have the same mental abilities as adults, therefore aren’t able to rationalize as an adult would. In saying that, it is important to reiterate that any form of abuse is inexcusable and any minimization of responsibility would reinforce negative behaviors.2
So what can we do?
Encourage teens to understand the value of others. Philippians 2:3 states “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” When others are valued, natural desires to be significant aren’t manipulated and turned into demands leading to abuse.
Education to empower our youth in identifying the abuse and the importance in reporting any instances, whether or not it involves them.
The typical pattern of teen dating violence can be broken down into 3 phases:
According to the CDC, it is estimated that 10% of students in high school report physical victimization and 10% report sexual victimization from persons they were dating within the 12-month period prior to the survey.1 Other statistics state that 1 in 4 teens have experienced some form of dating abuse.2 It is known that many instances of abuse occur on school campuses, through technology on social media or other public places. Educational systems often overlook the victim and abuser dynamic. Further training on teen dating violence should be held. One important protection method to consider is monitoring social media accounts and requiring all electronic devices capable of connecting to social media be under parents control overnight.
Nelina Moffett, LPC