Every year, roughly 1 in 10 American teenagers experiences physical abuse at the hands of a dating partner. This sort of dating violence can lead to long-term effects, leaving survivors at increased risk of depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, poor academic performance, and future violence. Although February is officially Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, abuse between teenagers in relationships is a form of domestic violence — and it is just as important that we raise awareness about it.
Last year in Pennsylvania, a 17 year old girl was stabbed to death by her 16 year old boyfriend. She was just one of the 107 people killed in Pennsylvania by domestic violence in Pennsylvania in 2013. Across the country, the numbers are staggering: approximately 1.5 million high school students in the U.S. admit to being intentionally hit or physically harmed by a dating partner in the last year. 33 percent of American teens are victims of physical, sexual, verbal or emotional dating abuse — with females at an even higher risk of abuse. 25% of teen girls have been sexually or physically abused, and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 are 3 times more likely than the rest of the population to be abused by an intimate partner. Only 1/3 of teens who experience abuse will confide in someone about the violence — perhaps because 81% of parents either don’t believe that teen dating violence is an issue or don’t know if it is.
This is where Blackburn Center can help. We are committed to preventing teen dating violence and providing support to those who experience it. We work to raise awareness about these issues and to educate young people about healthy relationships. But our work only goes so far — we need your help! If you are a parent, educator, friend or mentor to a teenager, talk about teen dating violence. Don’t assume that the teens in your life know where to go for help — or that they even know that physical, sexual, and emotional abuse is not OK. Learn some common warning signs of an abusive relationship — including isolation from family and friends, extreme jealousy, and possessiveness. Read our brochure on teen dating violence, and ask your local schools to schedule an educational program with Blackburn Center. Finally, if you, a friend, or a loved one is in an abusive relationship, call us 24/7 for immediate and confidential support at 724-836-1122 or 1-888-832-2272.
Together, we can raise awareness and make a difference in the lives of young people. Making a difference in the fight against teen dating violence and domestic violence starts today!