The “Me Too” movement has brought to light the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and violence against women (and men) — and according to research, young adults experience some of the same abuses in relationships.
One in 10 teens who have dated has experienced physical abuse at the hand of a boyfriend or girlfriend, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationwide, February is dedicated to National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and, to talk about the issue, Carolyn Smith, PhD, assistant professor, served as a guest on 700 WLW (WLW-AM) radio’s “Eddie and Rocky” show.
Why Does This Happen?
Smith, whose research includes a study to measure the impact of a tech-based intervention program for teenage victims of domestic violence, says parents and friends often dictate what young adults consider acceptable in a relationship.
“There are some associations with witnessing that kind of (abusive) dynamic in your own home and seeing that as a normal part of a relationship,” Smith says. “In your friend group, if your friends are in that kind of a relationship, that’s again a normal thing for you to expect.”
Low self-esteem and embarrassment also sometimes play a part in keeping teens from recognizing or ending an abusive partnership.
What Can Parents Do?
Parents should role model a healthy relationship, Smith says. “Show what you should expect in terms of respect, trust and honesty in a relationship, as well as what you should demand.”
In addition, it’s important to talk about dating violence with teens. Smith suggests using pop culture to broach the subject. If an instance of domestic violence occurs in a movie or TV show, ask your teenager what he or she would do in that situation, and let them know “it all boils down to respect and having an equal playing field in a relationship.”