One in 10 teens reported being physically hurt by a romantic partner in the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, about 10% reported being forced into unwanted physical encounters such as touching and kissing by someone they were dating.
Through the Dating Matters® initiative, the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention seeks to raise public understanding of these troubling statistics during National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month in February.
In addition to teen dating violence that happens in person, online harassment and digital abuse is an increasing concern as teens spend more time online. The prevalence of social networks, texting and instant messaging gives abusers the chance to harass, insult, threaten or control others.
An Urban Institute study found that 26% of youngsters in relationships had experienced some form of digital abuse in the prior year, while 12% acknowledged perpetrating such harassment. The abuse often carried over into the relationship: 84% of victims of digital abuse reported experiencing psychological dating abuse and 52% reported physical dating abuse.
Love is Respect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, lists the following indicators of digital abuse:
A Pew Research Center study reported that 16% of teens were required by their partner to drop former boyfriends or girlfriends from their friend lists on social media sites. And 11% reported a current or former partner had used the Internet or a cell phone to threaten violence. Teens also reported name-calling or put-downs (22%), or having rumors spread about them online (15%).
A report by MTV and the Associated Press found that 61% of teens who have sent explicit photos or videos of themselves were pressured to do so at least once. Such images have been passed along to others, sometimes without the original sender’s knowledge; 17% of recipients reported they have forwarded images, with most sending them to more than one person.
Love is Respect offers the following tips to help teens stay safe online: