Engaging boys in teen dating violence prevention

TDVAM FB cover

Statistics say one in 10 high school students report being purposely physically hurt by a boyfriend/girlfriend. Preventing teen dating violence and treating victims involves everyone, including parents, educators and peers. More and more, engaging men and boys in teen dating violence prevention is becoming an important piece of the prevention puzzle.

Safe Start Center Director Elena Cohen answers a few questions about how best to engage men and boys and why it’s important.

Why is it important to engage boys in teen dating violence prevention?

Teen dating violence is a significant public health concern in the U.S.  Although there are a growing number of legal and social services for teens, we don’t have effective resources for helping men learn to recognize and take responsibility for their patterns of hurtful behavior.  Some of these men have been exposed to violence themselves, and as a result, they feel the emotional, physical and mental impacts of this violence.  Often men try not to pay attention to their pain and believe that an admission of difficulties is showing weakness and a proof of not being a “real man.” Sometimes violence is an attempt to cope with hidden pain.

Violence prevention requires a change in the social conditions that impact the community which make violence normal and acceptable. Men and boys receive, sort through, and enforce messages about relationships, violence and power every day. Men and boys also send powerful messages about relationships, violence, and power that affect members of society. Generally speaking, men have greater access to resources and opportunities to influence large social structures and institutions. They, as a result, play an important role to prevent teen dating violence

What ways/strategies have you found effective in reaching boys about teen dating violence prevention?

Young men are trained to be masculine in a way that leads to confusion, repression, isolation and domination. The understanding of what it takes to be a successful man is going through big changes. Teenagers are being called upon to develop new ways of relating to their emotions, their dating partners, even their work. This can easily leave young men feeling confused, disoriented and overwhelmed.

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Teen Dating Violence: digital abuse and sexting

This month, teens and communities are working together to shed light on the different forms that teen dating abuse can take. Check out the video below to see what teens are saying about teen dating violence and what it looks like to them.

One article notes  that at least 10 percent  of teens have been involved in a violent dating situation and the rising use of technology among teens as young as 12 may be contributing to these numbers.

PEW research found:

  • Almost 60 percent of 12 year olds now have cell phones
  • As of 2009, 83 percent of 17 year olds have cell phones – up from 64 percent in 2004
  • 50 is the median number of texts that are sent daily by 12-17 year olds

Use of this of technology has also led to a rise in the occurrence of ‘sexting.’

What is sexting? 

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How common is it?

PEW found that among surveyed teens aged 12-17:

  • 15 percent have received or sent suggestive images of themselves or someone else via text.
  • Older teens are more likely to participate in explicit image texting.
  • Teens with unlimited text messaging plans – 75 percent of teens with cell phones — are more likely to report receiving sexually suggestive texts.
  • 18 percent of teens with unlimited texting plans are more often receiving nude or nearly nude images or video via their phones.

Why is it problematic?

Sexting I is extremely common among teens and contributes to negative risky sexual behaviour, exposure to violence and coercion in young relationships. In January, a young girl fell victim to the dangers of sexting and was bullied into performing sexual acts after a party. A clip of her was taken and she was threatened with it being shared at school. Additionally, teens participating in sending explicit images are also at risk of legal action under child pornography rules. An example of this activity happened in Pennsylvania last month when two teens were cited for sending explicit photos of themselves.

What is an appropriate response?

Continuing to raise awareness about the dangers associated with digital abuse and sexting is the first step to combating the problem. Professionals, non-profits and communities are working on the response and HealthyChildren.org shares some ideas for how to respond, including:

  • Talk to kids about healthy dating relationships and the issue of sexting.
  • Make sure they understand the legal consequences of participating in sending explicit messages and images.
  • Share real stories about what can happen when sending or receiving images.
  • Practice appropriate responses with kids so they can use them if they’re pressured into sexting.

For more information on understanding how to respond, check out Futures Without Violence’s guide to Effective Responses to Teen Sexting.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Everyone can help

One in three teens has reported direct or indirect contact with teen dating violence.

As with other forms of violence, exposure to dating violence as a teen can lead to problems well into adulthood.

According to the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence study, about 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between the ages of 11 and 17.

Signs a teen is involved in an abusive relationship may include:

  • Changes in patterns of relationships:  Time spent with friends declines or the teen seems anxious about making plans that don’t include their partner.
  • Mood changes/depression:  Teens in violent relationships may cry more or want to be alone.
  • Making excuses or denying abusive actions, verbal insults, or emotional blackmail (for example, “He was just kidding”).
  • Isolation from family members.

Everyone can play a part in preventing teen dating violence and helping victims heal. Research has shown that children and teens who have a trusted, caring adult in their lives may be better equipped to cope when faced with violence.

Numerous organizations and curriculums have targeted the issue and aim to promote healthy relationships. A Department of Justice study found that school-level interventions in 30 New York City middle schools reduced the instances of teen dating violence by 50 percent.

So let’s all get involved. No idea where to start? Here’s a list of resources for parents and programs.

Stick with us throughout the month as we explore the prevalence of teen dating violence, as well as ways to help and heal.

In the meantime, let us know what you have planned for the month in the comments section below!

What will you do with your “extra” day?

Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November. February has 28 alone. All the rest have thirty-one. Except there is a time…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ….when February has 29!

Every four years, we gain a day.

So what are you going to do with your extra day? Will you spend more time with your friends than in 2011? Will you go for an extra walk?

Or will you just let it slip on by unnoticed…

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Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Campaigns to follow

As with all good campaigns, the goal is to get information to the public in the hopes that information will lead to action.

With the issue of teen dating violence, campaigns and programs vary from national campaigns spotlighting the issue to local programs offering services to teens and their parents.

For the rest of the week, we’re going to highlight programs that have taken on the mission to shed light on teen dating violence and provide help to those touched by it.

First up, probably one of the most visible when discussing teen dating violence: Liz Claiborne Inc.’s Love is Not Abuse.

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Girls and Teen Dating Violence

What Do Girls Face?

When you look at these posters what kinds of words or thoughts are going through your mind when you read about their situations on each red flag – sadness, fear, humiliation, jealousy, violence, pride, defiance, anger?

All girls could be experiencing violence; these pictures from the Red Flag Campaign show what kinds of situations they might be facing. Maybe they are being put down by a partner, pressured into sex, or even the one hurting their partner.  These girls show that anybody could be the victim – or even perpetrator – of emotional abuse, verbal manipulation, or physical violence. It’s important to understand this in order to get the overall picture of where girls fit into the issue of teen dating violence (TDV).

So where do they fit?

“Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical,

emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner – a figure that far exceeds victimization rates

for other types of violence affecting youth.”–Futures Without Violence

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Teen Dating Violence: An Overview of Boys and Girls

Teen Dating Violence (TDV)

We opened the month in support of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, and this week we’d like to talk more about how teen dating violence affects girls and boys. Because “among adolescents aged 12 to 21, almost 3 in 10 have experienced violence in opposite-sex relationships,” and according to Womenshealth.gov “in the United States, teens and young women experience the highest rates of relationship violence. In fact, 1 in 10 female high-schoolers say they have been physically abused by a dating partner in the past year.”

The Cycle of Violence

Although teen dating violence is a problem itself, it is helpful to look at violence as a whole to better understand why, how, and when it happens. One way of looking at the subject of violence is through what is called the “cycle of violence,” which looks at the different phases of abuse. This cycle is about controlling another person within the boundaries of a relationship, and it can be physical, emotional, mental, or even financial.

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