USA: High Rates of Teen Dating Violence Linked to Recession and Lack of Parental Awareness
Thursday, June 18, 2009 4:21 PM

Liz Claiborne and The Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) recently released the study Teen Dating Abuse Report 2009: Impact of the Economy and Parent/Teen Dialogue on Dating Relationships and Abuse. The study, conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, found that approximately one in three teens have experienced verbal, physical or sexual abuse in their dating relationships. Nearly one in four have been abused through technology, such as email or text message, and nearly one in two said they had been controlled, threatened, or pressured to do something they did not want to.

The study found that there is a direct relationship between the declining economy and the increase of teen dating violence. The Director of Public Policy at the FVPF, Kiersten Stewart, explains "Families in economic distress are themselves experiencing higher rates of violence, and teens in those same households are experiencing much higher rates of dating violence in their own relationships." Teens whose families are experiencing economic problems are significantly more likely to have witnessed abuse between their parents. Teens who witness abuse between their parents report 50% higher incidence of abuse themselves than teens who have not witnessed abuse.

There is also a disconnect between what parents think their teens are experiencing and what they are actually experiencing. 82% of parents believed they could recognize the signs of dating abuse in their child, but only 58% could identify all the warning signs of abuse. The study found that parents are "dangerously out of touch" with the amount of dating violence in their children's lives. "Not enough parents recognize behaviors that may be warning signs of abuse. It concerns us that about one-third of parents don't recognize that isolation from family, being kept away from family by a dating partner, and isolation from friends can be danger signs" said FVPF President Esta Soler.

While dating violence continues to be a large problem in the United States, many organizations have formed and are working together to promote healthy relationships, help teens avoid abusive relationships, and end dating violence.

Compiled from: Parents Say They are Talking About Dating Violence, But Teens Aren't Getting the Message, Family Violence Prevention Fund (16 June 2009); Teen Dating Violence Up In Recession, Miller, Michelle, CBSNews, (10 June 2009); Teen Dating Abuse Report 2009: Impact of the Economy and Parent/Teen Dialogue on Dating Relationships and Abuse, Liz Claiborne, The Family Violence Prevention Fund (June 2009) (PDF, 33 pages).