By Colleen Sharlow and Heather Ward
With so many traumatic events going on in the world and in our nation, it is easy to overlook some serious issues that are still happening, even if they have not made the headlines in the news or social media. One of these issues is teen dating violence. Recently we recognized February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. The goal was to raise awareness for teens, young adults, and parents about dating violence, the cycle of abuse, and how to build healthy relationship skills.
Teen dating violence includes any type of physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse between two individuals who are in a close relationship. According to the CDC, teen dating violence is far more common than people may think, and it affects millions of teens who are in relationships in the U.S. every year. In the last year, about 1 in 11 female and 1 in 15 male teens have experienced physical dating violence. In addition to this, 1 in 9 female and 1 in 36 male high school students reported to have experienced sexual dating violence in the past year.
Unhealthy relationships can have many effects on a teenager, and those who are victims of dating violence are more likely use tobacco, alcohol or other drugs, engage in unhealthy and risky behaviors, experience symptoms of anxiety and depression, and think about committing suicide. It is extremely important for pre-teens and teens to learn the skills they need in order to establish and maintain healthy relationships in their lives. Teen dating violence is preventable, and once teens and young adults learn how to deal with their feelings in a healthy way and communicate effectively, the occurrence of teen dating violence will be reduced.