What you need to know about teen dating violence

  • About 33% of teens in the U.S. are a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

    About 33% of teens in the U.S. are a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. Stock Photo

 
By Madelyn Burbank
Amita Health
Updated 2/14/2021 9:48 AM

Dating can sometimes be more violent that many think, especially for teenagers. That's why February has been designated as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

According to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus, about one in three teens in the U.S. is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure far exceeding victimization rates for other types of violence affecting our youth.

 

Teens who have been in abusive relationships can carry these unhealthy patterns of violence into their future relationships. They may bring this experience with them to the classroom, later relationships and, ultimately, they can end up victims and perpetrators of adult partner violence.

But there are signs you can look for if you suspect your teen might be in an abusive relationship. These include:

• Signs of jealousy or possessiveness by your teen's partner, to the point where your child stops spending time with other friends and family.

• Unexplained marks or bruises.

• Depression or anxiety.

• Ending participation in extracurricular activities or other interests.

• Dressing differently, such as wearing loose clothing so as not to attract attention.

• The need to text or call the partner back right away to keep him or her from becoming upset.

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• Fear of their partner's reaction to a given situation.

Talk to your teens about their relationships, discussing the warning signs and creating a safe, positive place for them to go with questions or concerns.

If you suspect your child may be in an abusive relationship, contact their physician for help. Or call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at (866) 331-9474 or text "loveis" to 22522.

• Children's health is a continuing series. Madelyn Burbank is a licensed clinical social worker and the SAVE2 (Stand Against Violence Everyone/Everywhere) navigator for Amita Health Behavioral Medicine Institute.

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