A new study brings a new kind of wake-up call to parents with alarming evidence that teen girls today face relationship violence three times more often than adult women. Specifically, they're threatened, punched, isolated and devalued by teenage boyfriends.
A group called Teen Research Unlimited surveyed more than 1,000 teens about dating abuse. They found one in five report being hit, slapped or punched by a boyfriend or girlfriend. A third worry about their physical safety. A quarter say they've been isolated from family and friends. More than half say they've compromised their own beliefs to please a partner. Perhaps the most shocking is that many think this behavior is just part of a normal relationship.
"These teens just want to fit in. They want to be in a relationship. And they're not confident enough to stand up and say 'wait a second I deserve better!' in fact, they often don't even know they deserve better," said Jessica Aronoff, the executive director of Break the Cycle.
"I see 7th graders who start going out at a very young age, it's a security issue. It's something that makes them feel comfortable, that they know someone else is really supposedly caring for them." said Aura Lee Lunde, a peer educator.
The research also points to a potential problem young people may not even realize. Since teens today have constant contact with instant messaging and text messaging. Many victims don't see it as controlling when a boyfriend or girlfriend wants to know their whereabouts a dozen times a day.
If you are or know a teen who is in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship, "Break the Cycle" is non-profit group dedicated exclusively to helping teens. Contact "Break the Cycle" at 1-888-988-TEEN, or click here.