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Teen dating violence is a serious problem in the United States. Nancy Lublin, CEO describes it as "epidemic."  Teens growing up in an abusive family struggle with the same issues that their younger siblings do:

Aggression
Anger
Fear
Isolation 
Low self-esteem 
Behavioral problems 
Medical issues 
Insomnia 
Truancy and other school problems

Further, these teens may be beginning to date. Because their parents have modeled a broken picture of healthy relationships, they are more likely to have trouble with their own. Teen-aged girls from abusive families, in particular, are more likely to  be physically, emotionally, or sexually abused in relationships. Teen-aged boys that witness domestic violence relationships in the home are more prone to committing abusive behavior in their own relationships. The problem is there's a genuine disconnect between what parents think they know about teen dating and what their children may be experiencing. According to the 2008 "Understanding Teen Dating Violence Fact Sheet," (link found on main website) published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

72% of 8th and 9th graders reportedly "date."
1 in 4 adolescents reports verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from a dating partner.
Nationwide, about 10% of students report being physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past 12 months.

The reality is that your teen-aged daughter is even more likely to be the victim of abuse than the women you know. Many teens do not report dating violence committed against them because they are afraid to tell their friends and family. 

Liz Claiborne Studies Teen Dating Violence

A 2009 study commissioned by Liz Claiborne and the Family Violence Prevention Fund to study the impact of the economy on teen dating violence found some disturbing connections. Forty-four percent of teens whose families faced hardships because of the worsening economy within the past year say they have witnessed abuse between their parents. Sadly, 67% of these same teens experienced some form of violence or abuse in their own relationships. This is 50% higher than for teens whose parents are not involved in a domestic violence relationship. Less than one-third of these teens have discussed their own abuse with their parents.

The study found that 1 in 3 teens will be in an abusive relationship and that most (78%) stay even after they are physically abused. An earlier study by New York City found that 80 percent of girls stay even after they've been hit. Other findings from the study:

57% of teens have either experienced abuse (been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked, or otherwise physically assaulted) or know someone who has 

13% of teen-aged girls who said they have been in a relationship report being physically hurt or hit

90% want a teen dating abuse prevention program included in their school's curriculum; only 25% have taken such a course 

Of those who have taken a dating and relationship education course in school, 75% now believe they would recognize the signs of abuse and 64% say the course taught them appropriate dating and relationship behavior 

84% of parents want dating and relationship education included in school curriculum for their teens 

11% of teen-aged girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm if she broke up with him 

25% of teen-aged girls who have been in relationships said they have been pressured to have some form of sex 

11% of teen-aged girls in a relationship reported enduring repeated verbal abuse. 

If trapped in an abusive relationship, 73% of teens said they would tell a friend. However, experience does not bear this out; only 33% of teens who have been in or known about an abusive relationship said they have told anyone about it. 

Break the Silence; Break the Cycle

Watch this video produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more:  www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/IPV/default.htm (this is found on main website)

What Can I Do to Prevent Teen Dating Violence?

Have that talk with your son or daughter about teen dating violence and appropriate dating behavior. Don't wait for them; they may be too embarrassed to talk to you about this. 

Support Eagle's Wings efforts to bring teen dating violence awareness to local schools. Help us bring a powerful presentation on teen dating violence awareness and prevention to schools in your neighborhood. Contact us.

Read "Lessons in Domestic Violence,"  and learn the signs Judi Noble and Jim Howell shared with teens about early violence patterns, based on their own teen dating history. 

Talk to your local school district about implementing teen dating violence prevention programs in schools throughout your area. 

Teen Dating & Violence