More than 1.5 million high school students will experience physical or verbal abuse by the person they’re dating this year, alone.
On prom night, with more partying and less supervision, teen dating violence is an even greater concern.
Robyn Hussa Farrell, the founder of Mental Fitness in Spartanburg, trains parents and educators to stop kids from being victimized.
“If a parent were to say to their teenage daughter, OK you’ve got your gorgeous dress, and you look amazing and you’ve built up this whole external beauty, what about you on the inside is also like a rock-star and gorgeous,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jennifer Parker heads the Child Advocacy Program in Spartanburg. She says research shows adult mentors can play a crucial role in helping troubled teens break the cycle.
“I think we have a huge inter-generational problem. That’s what we are actually trying to address with our center. We’re attempting to provide training and support for children that are really growing up in violent homes,” she said.
Teens often confuse emotional abuse and jealousy with love. So to spot the warning signs here are some red flags. Change of behavior, distance and isolation and lying.
For teens who won’t talk, text messages, photos and social media accounts can be a big clue.
Hussa Farrell says teens who try to fix someone are asking for trouble.
“If you’re a teen and you’re staying in a relationship because you believe in your loved one, right, you believe in your friend, but they’re treating you poorly. It’s time for you to say, I love you, but you’re hurting yourself and I’m not going down with this ship. I need to protect myself,” said Farrell.
If you think you may know a teenager in an abusive relationship here are some other resources that can help:
Academy on Violence and Abuse: http://www.avahealth.org/
American Humane Association: http://www.americanhumane.org
Crimes Against Children Research Center: http://www.unh.edu/ccrc
National Child Protection Training Center: http://www.ncptc.org
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform: http://nccpr.info
Prevent Child Abuse: http://www.preventchildabuse.org
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: http://nctsnet.org/