By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer
It can be hard to relate to statistics; after all, they are just numbers without a face, right? But what happens when that next statistic is your best friend? Your teammate? Your little sister? The closer it hits to home, the easier it is to see that even one victim is too many.
- Every year, almost 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- That’s one in ten high school students who has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a partner.
- Females are disproportionately affected, with one in four high school girls a victim of physical abuse in their relationships.
- When including emotional and verbal injury, the rate of dating abuse jumps to one in three teenagers.
The prevalence of teen dating violence is inexcusable, but the good news about bad statistics is that YOU can change them. Dating violence is not usually a one-time incident, but a pattern of destructive behaviors used to control another person. In that sense, putting an end to teen dating violence is a matter of spotting healthy versus unhealthy relationships, looking out for your peers, and building a culture of respect where abuse is unacceptable.
Only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse,
and 81% of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.
It’s time to change these attitudes in our schools and communities. As a mother, the thought of any child being hurt by, or inflicting pain on another, is infuriating. We—parents, teachers, coaches, mentors—need to speak out against teen dating violence in order to stop the abuse before it begins. We have a shared responsibility to model healthy relationships founded in respect and equality; to teach our children that love and abuse cannot exist simultaneously and that violence doesn’t equal strength. This February, make your voice heard during National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.