Teen dating is something that everyone knows exists and expects to occur. Many teen dating relationships are healthy; however, there are a growing number of abusive relationships in high schools across this country. One and a half million students are abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend every year in America, according to loveisrespect.org.
Liz Claiborne, Inc did a series of studies released in 2005 and 2007. The study in 2005 looked at physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. 33% of teenagers stated that they know at least one teen who has been physically hurt by their partner. 25% of teen girls said they have been pressured into performing a sexual act (either oral or intercourse). 26% of teen girls reported that they have experienced repeated verbal abuse. 73% of teens said if they were in an abusive relationship that they would turn to a friend for help; but only 33% actually have. The 2005 survey also found that nearly 80% of teen girls who have endured physical abuse by their boyfriends continue to date him.
The study released in 2007 focused on the use of technology in abusive relationships. The use of technological devices to control, threaten, and abuse was noted by the teens surveyed as “a serious problem”. When asked, “Thinking about people your age who are in a relationship, how serious of a problem would you say each of the following issues is?” 71% answered “Spreading rumors by a partner” is a serious problem, 68% said “sharing private or embarrassing videos or photos of a dating partner” is a serious problem, and 63% reported “threatening physical harm using common tech devices” to be a serious problem.
Teens also reported that their boyfriends/girlfriends are in constant contact by phone or text. Nearly 1 in 4 (24%) teenagers in relationships reported that they are in contact with their partner at least once an hour from Midnight until 5 am. 17% of teenagers in relationships said that they talk to their partner at least TEN TIMES per hour between Midnight and 5 am. 43% of teens are contacted by their partner between 10 pm and midnight. This are the statistics among all teens, not only those who have acknowledged abuse.
Liz Claiborne, Inc also interviewed parents and teens simultaneously asking the same questions and discovered a large “knowledge gap” between what teens reported IS going on and what teens’ parents THINK is going on. Parents are in the dark about many of the things their teens are going through. Teens said they didn’t tell their parents for three main reasons (in order of popularity): they didn’t see it as a problem, they were afraid their parents would limit their computer/phone/partner access, or they were afraid of how their partner would react.
The most disturbing statistic; however, is the rate of increase of physical abuse in our teens which almost doubled from the survey in 2005 (5%) to 2007 (8%). At that rate of increase, current statistics might show the number of teens who have experienced physical abuse to be close to 18-20% by now. According the US Centers for Disease Control survey done in 2011, 9.4% of teens had been physically abused in the year preceding.
Beech High School in Hendersonville, TN has decided that they are going to spread awareness about this problem. What they are doing about it will be the topic of an upcoming article.