MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Teen dating violence is the focus of a national education campaign this week and Family Services officials say it’s something new.
“The legislation recognizing it is very new, something that went though in 2008,” said Jamie Hurst, victim advocate, Family Advocacy Program, Marine and Family Services, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
“So, each year, the first week in February, we’re going to educate the public about teen dating violence,” she added.
The trend for teen dating violence is moving up, said Hurst, who compared it to college dating violence.
“It’s becoming almost as prevalent as you’d find on a college campus, or in early adulthood when someone is living on their own. The teenagers aren’t experiencing just physical abuse, but they’re victims of control issues and stalking issues like we talked about last month during Stalking Awareness month,” she said.
She said that teens have learned how to try and control someone using high- tech methods.
“We see that teens know how to try and control someone with text messages and cell phone calls to someone they’re dating,” Hurst said.
While the public perception may be that females are most often going to be the victim of violence, the actual numbers have a somber twist.
“An interesting fact is that teenaged boys are more likely to be physically assaulted by their female girlfriends such as slaps and scratches, but the reverse is that the girls are more likely to be severely injured by the male counterpart,” Hurst explained.
Violence, at any level, is something that must be dealt with and teen dating violence is no different.
“They need to be treated as though they were an adult in a domestic abuse situation. There needs to be a safety plan. There needs to be education about services available. There needs to be a consideration of self-esteem, what allowed a child to become involved in such a situation. And often, there needs to be the support and understanding of the family,” she added.
While the family may see what they think is a happy, going-to-school teenager, they may not have any idea that the teens are in a physical relationship that is harming them.
“Teens can be good at hiding these things,” she said.
She explained that home life can play a large part in how teens handle their relationships outside the home.
“If a teenager sees a victim of domestic violence at home, they may emulate that in their relationships because they see it as an acceptable way of treatment,” Hurst said.
The Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Preventative Initiative chose to take a stand and work to put a stop to teen dating violence.
The group says one in three female teens in a dating relationship report having feared for their safety, and 30 percent of teens in a dating relationship say they have been text-messaged 10, 20 or even 30 times an hour by a partner wanting to know where they are, what they’re doing and who they are with.
One in five teens in serious relationships report having been slapped or pushed by a partner.
Hurst urges that parents talk to their teens, educate themselves and get the facts about teen dating violence.
For more information or help call toll free 1-866-331-9474 or go on-line to www.loveisrespect.org to receive immediate and confidential assistance or call Hurst at (229) 639-7938.