By: Kristen Hegel
According to a study, researchers reported in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine that dating violence among teens has become commonplace. In their study conducted at an emergency room that sees mostly inner-city teens, over half of the young adults reported domestic abuse from their partner.
Within the 327 young adults, between the ages of 13 and 21, boys and girls reported dating violence. The claims of abuse ranged from physical to sexual abuse, including hitting, kicking and rape. Of the teens questioned, 55 percent said they had experienced abuse during a relationship. About 59 percent said they had been the abuser in the relationship before. When it came to being injured, 16 percent of girls revealed that they feared being injured in their relationship. Only three percent of boys could say the same. Even though the girls feared being injured, more girls than boys were found to be more physically violent than their partner.
“Both boys and girls perpetrate violence and sometimes girls perpetrate more violence. It is an enormous mistake to fall into the trap of equating those types of violence,” Dr. Bronwen Carrol, author of the study, said. Just because the violence occurs more often in girls, does not mean it should be ignored when dealing with boys. “The violence that is perpetrated on girls is much more severe. The injuries sustained on girls are much more severe, much more frequent,” Dr. Brian Wagers, an ER doctor who studies dating violence at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said. “When boys experience it, they need to realize that this is not something that’s right.”
While the results do not represent all groups of adolescents, they indicate that there need to be programs to assist the victims of teen violence. According to Carroll, teens should have their parents and peers involved in their relationship if such violence does occur. Carroll also encourages parents, teachers and doctors to talk about the dangers of teen dating violence. “We need to be aware about this, we need to ask. My guess is that just a meaningful discussion for an adolescent with an adult that he or she trusts about, ‘What does a healthy relationship look like?’ can go a long way,” Carroll said.