Dating violence is physical, sexual, or psychological violence within a dating relationship. Examples include hitting or punching, forced sexual contact, or threats of violence.
About 10% to 20% of high school teenagers are physically injured by a dating partner each year.
Adolescent dating violence is associated with
Intimate partner violence (partner abuse) in adulthood
Injuries and other health risk behaviors such as unsafe sex, substance use, and suicide risk
Unlike adult intimate partner violence, rates of being the abuser are similar for adolescent boys and girls.
A teenager experiencing dating violence may:
Retreat from school or activities
Show signs of depression
Isolate themselves from friends
Make changes in daily routine or clothing style
Recommendations for parents who are concerned about dating abuse with their child:
Ask questions about your teenager's life and relationships.
Listen with an open mind.
Support your teenager as they make decisions about their relationships.
Be calm and take positive action.
Recognize key times, such as when your child starts high school, to talk with them about healthy relationships.
Maintain open lines of communication with your child about their dating relationships.
Talk openly with your child about expectations for dating relationships, including clear messages that physical, sexual, or threatened harm is not normal or acceptable.
Encourage schools to incorporate education about healthy relationships. A study in this month's Archives found that teaching youth about healthy relationships and ways to avoid physical dating violence in high school health classes reduced physical dating violence, even years later, among adolescent boys.
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: http://www.loveisrespect.org/
Source to raise awareness and prevent digital dating abuse among teens: http://www.thatsnotcool.com
Family Violence Prevention Fund: http://endabuse.org/section/programs/teens
To find this and other Advice for Patients articles, go to the Advice for Patients link on the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine Web site at http://www.archpediatrics.com.
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