Abuse in teen dating is far more prevalent than we think. A survey conducted by the legal service of India reveals that around 10% of high school students face abuse in relationships and 60% of the abuse is psychological. In addition to this, many students simply refuse to admit that at any point in their lives they are or were enduring violence. In my opinion, people need to speak more about this issue so that we can raise awareness and educate students on ways to help them avoid and cope with violence against adolescents.
But what exactly is teen dating violence?
When adolescents in a relationship experience any form of abuse from their partner, it is known as teen dating violence. Abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological or cyber-related. Small gestures like hitting, slapping or kicking may be mistaken as affection but they can develop into serious forms of violence.
A study at Nirmala Niketan College of Home Science stated that 40% of late adolescents and early adults have admitted to being victims of forced sexual acts and abuse.
Why does it happen?
Most people do not take into consideration that teens are still not emotionally mature and cannot handle the stress of being in a relationship at such a young age. Teens are in their rebellious and energetic phase in life. Because of that, they suffer from mental and physical restlessness. When this is coupled with anxiety, stress, miscommunication, and personal insecurities they vent their anger in violent ways. Teen dating violence is majorly influenced by media and peers. A second obstacle is that the majority of the parents do not establish an open relationship with their child. This prevents the child from being vocal about the abuse. Another reason as to why teen dating violence occurs is because adolescents are not educated about healthy sexual and reproductive behaviour.
Impact on adolescents
The immediate impact of teen dating violence could be humiliation. However, constant abuse might result in higher rates of drug and alcohol and high-risk sexual behaviour. Teens also begin to idealise suicide. Other dangers include the following:
- Lack of confidence
- Inexpressiveness of emotions
- Social isolation
- Sexually transmitted infections
- May undergo unsafe abortions
- Ovarian and testicular cancers
- Gender-based violence
- Anxiety, depression
- Abandon life ambition
Preventing teen dating abuse
The best decision will be to report the abuse to whosoever they trust. Teens must also be educated on healthy sexual and reproductive behaviour; they must be assertive about what they want and do not want in a relationship. Teens are actually unaware about the types and degrees of violence that exist. Therefore, along with raising awareness about physical and verbal abuse that can come about during teen dating, we must also teach them how to report it. Along with this, parents also need to realise that puberty is a fragile time when children want to conceal their relationships because they are afraid to disclose it when they face abuse.
When a relationship is harmonious and involving no sorts of abuse, then, research says it can improve lifespan by helping general health. Adolescents must be aware of what makes a good relationship and how to recognise the initial signs of abuse. An ideal relationship requires healthy sexual and reproductive behaviour that involves communication and consent. By initiating a teen dating violence awareness month, it helps to educate teens on various aspects of a healthy relationship.
Vydehi Institute of medical sciences and research centre Bangalore, IndiaAMSA India