Teen Dating Violence Prompts Awareness Campaign

By: Jessica Dealy Email
By: Jessica Dealy Email

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

One in three adolescent girls in the U.S. is a victim of abuse by a dating partner. That figure far exceeds victim rates for any other type of youth violence. Males are also victims.

Sexting, Facebook, e-mail, video games. The youth of today have access to a multitude of resources that show sex and violence.

Experts are now saying teenagers don't really understand where the boundary between love, sex, and violence really is.

"Nowadays they think it's just the norm," said high school counselor Cheryl Santillano. "They see it on TV, in the movies and they think it's the norm. That it is O.K. for it to happen. And our kids think that it's love."

The United States Senate says abuse and "sexting" is becoming a new frontier for teen abuse.

"Sexting is something that parents really need to be aware of, because there are so many teens out there pressured to send pictures of themselves and it's an issue parents don't understand," said Leslie Payne, executive director of Care Lodge Domestic Violence Shelter in Meridian.

Payne says if you ask most parents, they say yes, they've talked to their children about dating, sex, and violence in relationships. But if you ask those children if that's true, they have a completely different story.

"Most teens will say, no, my parents have not talked to me," said Payne. "So there's not a lot of communication between parents and teens."

Many parents may feel uncomfortable about the "big" talk, others believe they covered the basics. But the fact is, there are so many new ways for a teen to be abused while in a relationship that the parent may not even know that they're overlooking important subjects.

"It is up to the parent to feel comfortable and to get the information. There's so many, especially if you've got access to the web sites out there. Nowadays there's a lot of good information. We've got a lot of good information here and its about being educated, and comfortable with what they are talking about," Payne said.

Now more than ever, monitor your teen's relationships. Most of the violence in young relationships occurs within a parent's home.

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