Tag Archives: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Teen dating violence on the rise

1 Apr

Many adults would be shocked by this report from the Chicago Tribune that many teens find dating violence normal

Ed Loos, a junior at Lake Forest High School, said a common reaction among students to Chris Brown‘s alleged attack on Rihanna goes something like this: “Ha! She probably did something to provoke it.”  In Chicago, Sullivan High School sophomore Adeola Matanmi has heard the same. “People said, ‘I would have punched her around too,’ ” Matanmi said. “And these were girls!” As allegations of battery swirl around the famous couple, experts on domestic violence say the response from teenagers just a few years younger shows the desperate need to educate this age group about dating violence. Their acceptance, or even approval, of abuse in romantic relationships is not a universal reaction. But it comes at a time when 1 in 10 teenagers has suffered such abuse and females ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of any age group, research shows.

The teens interviewed by the Chicago Tribune placed little worth on their lives or the lives of other women. If you don’t as the old ad tag line would say “don’t think you are worth it” why would anyone else think you are worthy of decent treatment?

What Parents Need to Know

Barbara Poncelet describes Five Things Parents Must Know about teen domestic violence.

1.        One in Ten or Worse: The Epidemic of Teen Domestic Violence

2.        The Cycle of Teen Domestic Violence

3.        Is Your Teen Dating a Potential Abuser?

4.        Hey, I’m Being Abused! Signs of Teen Domestic Violence

5.        The Bill of Rights of Teen Dating

According to Poncelet parents should look for these signs that their child is being abused:

·         Has bruises or other physical injuries that are unusual, or don’t match the explanation of how the injury happened.

·         Has a change in personality -– particularly an outgoing and upbeat teen becomes quiet and withdrawn.

·         Starts to have problems at school. Your teen begins to miss school, drop out of activities and grades begin to fall.

·         Stops hanging out with his friends, and starts spending all free time with the romantic partner.

·         Can’t seem to make decisions for himself.

·         Has a sudden change in the way he dresses or looks.

·         Starts using drugs or alcohol.

·         Gets pregnant. Forced sex can be a part of an abusive relationship.

·         Starts showing signs of stress such as appetite changes, changes in sleep pattern, changes in mood –- particularly being down, depressed, or anxious.

·         Changes the way he uses the telephone, internet, cell phone or other technology. Your teen may be harassed, abused or intimidated by the dating partner through any of these new technologies.

If you observe these changes, you need to begin asking questions. The real dialogue should have begun before you notice changes. Do you know your child’s friends? Have you met their families? Have you met the boyfriend or girlfriend? How much do you really know about your child’s activities?

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issued a press release about a study of teen dating violence. Here is a portion:

A new study of 1,430 7th-grade students released today reveals that many 7th-graders are dating and experiencing physical, psychological and electronic dating violence. More than one in three (37%) students surveyed report being a victim of psychological dating violence and nearly one in six (15%) report being a victim of physical dating violence. The study also found that while some attitudes and behaviors associated with increased risk for teen dating violence are pervasive, nearly three-quarters of students surveyed report talking to their parents about dating and teen dating violence. Parent-child communication is considered a protective factor that reduces the risk for teen dating violence.

The study was conducted by RTI International (RTI) on behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Blue Shield of California Foundation as part of an independent evaluation of their Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships (Start Strong) initiative. The data released today is the baseline for this larger evaluation to assess the overall impact of the program. Start Strong is one of the largest initiatives ever funded that targets 11- to 14-year-olds to promote healthy relationships in order to prevent teen dating violence and abuse.

The Start Strong evaluation is one of the few studies, and one of the largest, to look in-depth at the dating relationships of middle school students. Although it is not nationally representative, the study sample included 1,430 7th-grade students from diverse geographical locations. The study collected data on teen dating violence behaviors, as well as risk and protective factors linked to dating violence, such as gender stereotypes, sexual harassment, the acceptance of teen dating violence and parent-child communication.

“There is limited information on 7th-graders and these data provide important insights into teen dating violence behaviors and risk factors among middle school students,” said Shari Miller, Ph.D., lead researcher from RTI. “From this study, we are learning that many 7th-graders are already dating and teen dating violence is not happening behind closed doors with so many students in this study witnessing dating violence among their peers. While we need to do much more to understand this young age group, our data point to the need for teen dating violence prevention programs in middle school.”

Among the key findings:

  • 75% of students surveyed report ever having a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • More than 1 in 3 (37%) students surveyed report being a victim of psychological dating violence in the last 6 months.
  • Nearly 1 in 6 (15%) students surveyed report being a victim of physical dating violence in the last 6 months.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (31%) students surveyed report being a victim of electronic dating aggression in the last 6 months.
  • More than 1 in 3 (37%) of students surveyed report having witnessed boys or girls being physically violent to persons they were dating in the last 6 months.
  • Nearly 2 out of 3 students surveyed (63%) strongly agree with a harmful gender stereotype, such as “girls are always trying to get boys to do what they want them to do,” or “with boyfriends and girlfriends, the boy should be smarter than the girl.”
  • Nearly half of students surveyed (49%) report having been a victim of sexual harassment in the past 6 months, such as being “touched, grabbed, or pinched in a sexual way,” or that someone ”made sexual jokes” about them.
  • Nearly three-quarters of 7th-grade students surveyed report that, in the last 6 months, they “sometimes or often” talk with their parents about dating topics such as, “how to tell if someone might like you as a boyfriend or girlfriend.”

Prevention in Middle School Matters

“Dating violence is a pressing public health challenge and these new data are important and powerful. We know that middle school provides this critical window of opportunity to teach young adolescents about healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence,” said James Marks, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice president and director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Group. “Through Start Strong, we are identifying and spreading effective ways for parents, teachers and communities to help young people develop healthy relationships throughout their life.”

The Start Strong program utilizes a multi-faceted approach to rally entire communities to promote healthy relationship behaviors among middle school students. The Start Strong model utilizes innovative program components to: i) educate and engage youth in schools and out of school settings; ii) educate and engage teen influencers, such as parents, older teens, teachers and other mentors; iii) change policy and environmental factors in schools and communities; and iv) implement effective communications/ social marketing strategies to change social norms. “By combining the findings of this new study with the lessons learned in Start Strong communities, we are developing the essential tools needed to promote healthier relationships for young people,” said Peter Long, Ph.D., president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation.

Parent engagement is a key component of Start Strong. As the study shows, many 7th-graders are talking to their parents about dating topics, including teen dating violence. This highlights the important role parents can play in prevention efforts. Start Strong educates parents of middle school students about these issues so they can help their children navigate new relationships (both online and offline), including teaching parents the warning signs of abuse and how to start conversations about healthy relationships at an early age.

For more information and the full study, visit: www.rwjf.org/goto/middleschoolmatters


See, Teen Dating Violence: One In Six U.S. Students Age 12 Are Victimized, SurveyShows                 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/one-in-six-us-students-_n_1389326.html?ref=email_share

Advice to Teens in Abusive Relationships

Terry Miller Shannon gives teens advice about avoiding abusive relationships She advises teens to watch for the following danger signs:

1.        Sweeping you off your feet and declaring love immediately. This is the number one sign of a potentially battering relationship.

2.        Jealousy: Not wanting you to have other friends. Thinking everyone around WANTS you. Expecting you to spend every second with him. Sorry, extreme jealousy isn’t a compliment – it’s a problem.

3.        Controlling behavior: Keeping track of whom you’re with and where you are. Telling you what to wear. Picking your friends. Keeping you from getting a job. Taking your money. Threatening to commit suicide, to spread gossip about you, or out you if you’re part of a same-sex couple (gay and lesbian dating violence is under-reported due to pressures not to go public).

4.        Violence (physical, mental, or sexual): Punching the wall. Yelling. Insults. Name-calling. Isolating you from family or friends. Slamming the door. Insisting on any kind of unwanted sexual activity. Throwing things. Pinching, pushing, spanking…enough said?

Bottom line: If you’re uncomfortable with your relationship, something’s wrong. Mind your instincts. Be realistic – don’t expect your mate to change. Don’t believe him when he tells you the way he acts is your fault.

Popular culture makes teens who are not involved in activities as “couples” seem like outcasts. Too often, teens pair up before they are mature enough and ready for the emotional commitment. The more activities the girl is involved in and the more sponsored group activities, where teens don’t necessarily have to be in dating relationships, lessen the dependence on an abusive relationship.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©