Our teens are dealing with many additional stresses this year. The pandemic has kept most teens out of the traditional classroom. Online classes are their new daily reality. Along with the challenges of learning via Zoom, comes the isolation from friends, teachers, and mentors, and even extended family and family friends.
Imagine being a teenager and having your entire life unfold online from your bedroom., That is if you are lucky enough to have your own space. This is such a critical time for teens, socially and emotionally. Your hormones raging, trying to figure out who you are and how to navigate life as a teen. How to fit in and how to get by in this new reality.
There has been a dramatic rise in depression, mental health issues, and teen suicide. The New York Times published an article about the Las Vegas School district and youth suicide. One county had seen a 100% increase in student suicides since schools switched to virtual learning.
Then there are the financial challenges to families. Jobs lost. One in five families, experiencing food insecurity. Many for the first time. Then there is the impact of racial and social injustices that affects a higher proportion of black teens and LGBTQ students. Many students do not have access to technology or high-speed internet at home. According to the US Census Bureau, 11 million children do not even have access to a computer.
This is the world that our teens are experiencing now. Add to the mix, dating and new relationships.
A perfect recipe for Teen Dating Violence.
This can include sexual abuse, physical or psychological abuse as well. Teen Dating Abuse can happen in person or on social media where a teen can be shamed, bullied, and embarrassed.
One in three Teenagers admits to being in violent or abusive romantic relationships. That is over 1.5 million teens each year. 25% of teenage girls have been in unhealthy romantic relationships. Girls between the age of 16 – 24 are three times as likely to be abused by a boyfriend.
What are some of the Causes of Teen Violence in Romantic Relationships?
- Age- teens are entering into romantic relationships as early as 12 or 13, or even younger. They have not developed the emotional or mental maturity necessary to navigate a healthy romantic relationship.
- They may be depressed or suffer from anxiety or other mental health issues.
- They feel peer pressure to be in a romantic relationship or act in ways they do not feel comfortable.
- Drug or Alcohol use may be affecting their actions and decisions.
- Lack of ability to set boundaries and communicate effectively with their boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Teens who witness domestic violence at home or are victims themselves lack healthy role models for romantic relationships. These children may be more prone to accept violent behavior in their romantic relationships.
Teenage dating violence can lead to long-term and disabling symptoms of depression, drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety, low self-esteem, suicide or thoughts about suicide, and eating disorders.
If a teen is involved in an abusive relationship, it may lead to them being abusive to their children or participating in an adult romantic abusive relationship. The abuser’s actions could lead to criminal charges that may impact the rest of their lives.
What can we do to Stop Teen Dating Violence?
- Speak to your Teens. Let them know that it is safe to communicate any concerns and that you are on their side. Let them know you are not there to punish or shame them. Create a relationship of trust with your teen.
- If speaking to the parents is not an option, guide them to a trusted teacher, or mentor. There are organizations and professional counselors who work with teens, to keep them safe and begin the healing process.
- Encourage the teen to spend more time with friends and other role models who have a more positive outlook and are outside the abusive relationship.
- Keep lines of communication open and keep building trust.
- If you see signs of physical abuse and are concerned that the Teen is in danger. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). For further advice.
- Continue to get educated about the signs and solutions for Teen Dating Violence and the cycle of abuse.
If you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer and make a difference in this cause, please consider Global Hope 365.
Global Hope 365 is active in the community and dedicated to the advancement of women’s and girl’s rights. We are organizing, educating, raising awareness, saving lives, fundraising, strategizing and advocating, and of course learning more every day on how to transform the landscape in Orange County, California, the US, and around the world. Your donation is helpful, but your time is invaluable. You are invited to connect with us and join our efforts.