Dating violence has been defined by the United Sates Department of Justice as “the perpetration or threat of an act of violence by at least one member of an unmarried couple on the other member within the context of dating or courtship.” Dating among teenagers from its coverappears like a totally distinct realm where violence ceases to exist. However, statistics show that one in every five teens has experiencedviolence from their dating partners.
Violence in teen dating typically starts with the teenager trying to maintain power and control over the other teenager through some form of abuse. In order to seize control of their partner, a teenager may turn to physical violence, harassment, calling names, sexual abuse etc.Teen dating violence decussates all socio-economic and racial lines; with majority of the victims being young women who are likewise at higher risk for sustaining serious injury.
Most teenagers who are faced with this problem are cognizant of their situation yet choose to stay in the abusive relationship. One reason is because teenagers are typically inexperienced with dating relationships. Some perceive it as a status symbol which is often the consequence of pressure from peers to engage in dating relationships. Another reason is that some teenagers get a false sense of security from the relationship.
Based on recent statistics, about 35% of teenage girls will experience teen dating violence. There are two sides to this problem: one is on the side of young women and the other on the side of young men. Young women may believe that they bear the responsibility of solving the problems in their relationship. Others think that they can modify the behavior or “cure” their boyfriend. Some may even feel that there is no one to ask for help. On the other hand, young men may believe that they possess their partners and have the right to control them in any way they wish. Others may think that masculinity entails physical aggressiveness; or they may lose respect from their male friends once they are affectionate and supportive toward their girlfriends.
Without proper guidance and education, teenagers often fall prey to drugs, sex and other abuses. During this tumultuous stage in their lives, teenagers fail to understand what is happening and being young they don’t know how to react to it. By the time they realize their predicament, it is either too late or they are left devastated physically and emotionally. Teen dating violence can have lasting effects in the life of the victim and can persist through adulthood. In order to avoid all these problems, teenagers must understand that they have options; that they can choose better relationships and believe they are valuable individuals who deserve to be treated with dignity andrespect.