Dating violence is becoming an increasingly common problem. Teenagers who are subject to dating violence often slip through the cracks of the legal system because they are:
- too old to be helped by child protection social workers;
- too young to stay at battered women's shelters.
Official statistics are scarce, but in a recent survey, 1 in 11 high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the prior 12 months. (Source: CDC Teen Dating Violence Fact Sheet) Other recent studies show that at least 25% of teenagers report being in violent relationships themselves. About one in three adolescent girls in the U.S. is the victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. (Futures Without Violence Fact Sheet)
How to tell if your teenager is dating a violent person
In many instances, a batterer comes across as a perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. The key to protecting your child against dating violence is through communication. Pay attention to how your child's partner treats your child, and look for signs of dating violence.
If you think your child may be in an abusive relationship, you should find the right moment to talk to him/her about it. Do not be angry, and really listen to what your child has to say.
Signs that your teenager may be in an abusive relationship
Review these signs to see if it resembles your teenager’s behavior.
- Your teenager apologizes for his/her partner's behavior and makes excuses for the partner.
- Your teenager loses interest in activities that he/she used to enjoy.
- Your teenager stops seeing friends and family members and becomes more and more isolated.
- When your teenager and his/her partner are together, the partner calls your teenager names and puts him/her down in front of other people.
- Your teenager's partner acts extremely jealous of others who pay attention to your teenager.
- Your teenager's partner thinks or tells your teenager that you (the parents) don’t like the partner.
- Your teenager's partner controls your teenager's behavior, checking up on him/her constantly, calling and paging him/her, demanding to know who he/she has been with.
- Your teenager casually mentions the partner's violent behavior, but laughs it off as a joke.
- Your teenager often has unexplained injuries, or the explanations he/she offers don’t make sense.
- You see your teenager's partner violently lose his/her temper, striking or breaking objects.