Many parents are surprised to find that teen violence is a serious problem, yet statistics show that nearly 1.5 million teens are impacted by physical abuse by a dating partner each year including 21 percent of teen girls and 10 percent of teen boys. In many cases, assault by a dating partner is not a one-time event, and teens end up in a relationship that includes multiple incidents of abuse. The rate of dating violence among teens continues to grow, and most parents don’t even realize that their teens are dealing with this problem.
Dating Violence Raises the Risk for Other Problems
Dating violence is a serious issue on its own, but it also raises the risk for other problems. Teens who have been victims of dating violence are twice as likely to contemplate committing suicide. Victims are also more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. According to Loveis Respect.org, teen girls involved in violent relationships also have a higher risk for risky sexual behavior and eating disorders. Both teen girls and boys who have experienced dating violence are more likely to end up in a violent relationship when they become adults, and teen boys who have been victims have an increased risk of anti-social behaviors.
Warning Signs a Teen could be an Abuser
It’s important for parents to recognize the warning signs that their teen could be an abuser. Some of the signs include:
- Drug and alcohol use
- Verbal abuse and threats of violence
- Isolates their dating partner from family and friends
- Uses emotional and physical force in arguments
- Extremely controlling, sensitive and jealous
- Unpredictable mood swings and times of explosive, sudden anger
- History of abuse
- Blames others for feelings or problems
When a teen begins dating, it’s important for parents to stay involved. If a teen wants to talk, parents and loved ones need to be available. By staying involved in teens’ lives, family members are more likely to notice the signs of dating violence, whether a teen is a victim or an abuser.
Warning Signs a Teen may be a Victim of Dating Violence
Parents also need to recognize the signs that their teen may be a victim of dating violence in order to help stop the abuse. Some common signs a teen is a victim of abuse include:
- Changes in personality or mood
- Sudden emotional outbursts that go beyond mood swings
- Significant change in school performance, such as failing grades
- Isolation from friends and family members, or insistence of having more privacy
- Regularly putting himself/herself down
- Physical signs of abuse, such as bruises or cuts
- Alcohol or drug use
- Making excuses for the dating partner’s behavior
Whether you think your teen is a victim of violence or is an abuser, it’s important to get help for your teen right away, especially if he or she is dealing with addiction, depression, suicidal thoughts, or displaying violent behavior. Troubled youth programs may prove helpful, and an academy for boys may be an effective option for those who have been victims or abusers. You can also call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline for more assistance at 866-331-9474.